Nicola-Similkameen college offering year of free tuition to combat low enrolment rates

Nicola Valley Institute of Technology will give bursaries of up to $2,525 to region’s high-school graduates

Enrolment in post-secondary education is low in the Nicola-Similkameen region compared to the rest of B.C., so a local post-secondary institution is taking steps to remedy that. (Arthur Cruz/Flickr)

A college in B.C.’s Interior is offering Grade 12 graduates a year of free tuition after learning the region was recording one of the province’s lowest enrolment rates for those leaving high school.

Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) will give bursaries of up to $2,525 to School District No. 58’s 2018 graduates who apply, are accepted and register for courses before July 31.

“Generally, 12-15 per cent of students that graduate from School District 58 go to NVIT. We’d like to see that double,” NVIT president and CEO Ken Tourand told Shelley Joyce, host of CBC’s Daybreak Kamloops.

To qualify for the bursary, students must take a minimum 60 per cent course load for the fall and spring semesters. The bursary may only be used for tuition and it is not deferrable — the point is to get students into post-secondary immediately after high school, without taking a gap year.

“What we’re trying to encourage is, let’s not take that year off,” Tourand said. “You’re better off if you can to continue right through and get your schooling right away.”

Eligible students can apply for courses at either of NVIT’s campuses in Merritt and Burnaby.

Tourand said the bursary is only available for local students because he believes that if a student attends post-secondary in their region, they’re more likely to complete their program.

The bursary program will run for the next three years, so NVIT can collect a sample size and evaluate the success of the program.

Tourand says several students have already approached the school about the bursary, and while he realizes every student from the Nicola-Similkameen district won’t jump on the opportunity, he hopes it will encourage those who were feeling uncertain about their plans after high school.

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