Langford University? New report recommends West Shore campus
Published Tuesday, April 9, 2019 9:05AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 9, 2019 6:45PM PDT
The number of West Shore high school students going to university is significantly below the provincial average.
That's one of the most glaring findings in a new report paid for by the B.C. government and spearheaded by Royal Roads University that recommends the province support the expansion of post-secondary access on the West Shore.
On Tuesday, the province said it will put up $1.5 million to develop a "full business case" into expanding post-secondary options on the West Shore.
On average, 34.1 per cent of high school students in B.C. transition to university but on the West Shore the number of graduates pursuing post-secondary is just 17.2 per cent.
"It's staggering and it has been like that forever," says Langford Mayor Stew Young. "It's partly because we don’t have the ability to keep these kids close to home," he says.
Speaking on CFAX 1070 last month, Young indicated he already had a spot in mind for where a post-secondary campus would go.
"Well we've got a spot, nicely picked out right on Goldstream Avenue right in the downtown core. So it would be a little bit of an urban campus," he says.
While the cost of post-secondary education is a barrier for all students, the report outlines additional challenges facing West Shore students including housing and transportation.
It says West Shore students face challenges trying to find affordable housing closer to the University of Victoria and Camosun College. As a result, many students live at home and commute using public transportation.
The report says "daily commute times to campuses vary between just over an hour to nearly four hours," which it says makes finding employment to support education very difficult. It also predicts that commute times will increase over the next decade further discouraging students.
Of the 795 West Shore students surveyed in the report, 39 per cent said the largest barrier to post-secondary education was financial. The second largest barrier was commute time inconvenience at 11 per cent. Despite the report listing affordable housing near universities as a challenge for students, only 1 per cent of students indicated housing as an obstacle.
When asked how interested students would be in a West Shore campus the highest proportion of students surveyed said they were "moderately interested" at 23 per cent.
Young believes if there was a Langford campus, the number of West Shore students attending post-secondary would see a spike and could also help with the region's transportation woes.
"Maybe get 200, 300, 400 people that are living in Langford not get in their car, they can stay and live at home with their parents, he says.
The survey also shows 78 per cent of West Shore students expected to attend a post-secondary education. Similarly, 93 per cent of the parents who responded expected their child to pursue university after high school.
"It's just common sense, if it's easy to transition and not expensive then families will do it," he says. "It’s a step that has to be taken, this is not a difficult position for politicians when you look at the statistics."
Although the report doesn't list a possible location for a campus, it does provide projected enrollment numbers beginning with 154 students in 2021. In 2028 it projects the institution would have 1,025 students.
The recommendation to the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training says post-secondary expansion on the West Shore would likely be in the form of a collaborative venture involving Royal Roads University, Camosun College, and the University of Victoria.
The report was funded by a one-time grant of $250,000 dollars and included representatives from all levels of education in the region as well as municipal and provincial leaders.