The College of New Caledonia (CNC) says the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) students in the 2017/18 academic year at the Lakes District campus is still not available.
According to FTE numbers released in the past few years, there has been a sharp decline in the number of both students and staff.
In 2013/14, the Lakes District campus had 323 FTE students while in 2016/17 that number declined to 49. Meanwhile the number of staff declined from 124 in 2012/13 to 20 in the 2016/17 academic year.
Last week the college released a “student headcount” by term instead.
According to the headcount, the Lakes District campus had 81 students in the fall of 2016, increasing to 150 students in the fall of 2017.
However, according to the Rural Post-secondary Education Committee (RPEC), a local group concerned about the future of post-secondary education in Burns Lake, headcounts can be deceiving since they don’t take into account the amount of hours that students spend on campus.
RPEC members explained that if 100 individuals attended a workshop at CNC, the college could consider their attendance as a ‘headcount of 100’ when in fact the combined hours that they spent on campus could be the equivalent of only one FTE.
Alyson Gourley, a CNC spokesperson, says that from now on the college will only be releasing student headcounts as opposed to FTE numbers because FTE counts are “not useful for public consumption” and “do not fully represent student activity on a campus.”
“Headcount data is consistent as it represents a student on campus and can be related to other data such as registrations whereas FTE data stands alone due to it being a calculated number,” she said.
“We are releasing the most accurate information we have,” she added. “We will be releasing headcounts publicly to all media going forward to ensure accurate reporting and consistent year over year comparisons.”
According to the Ministry of Advanced Education, CNC will be required to release the number of FTE students to the provincial government by Oct. 31, 2017. Once the ministry receives the data, it is again checked and verified over several weeks to ensure it is accurate.
The College of New Caledonia will be making a presentation to Burns Lake council this November. Council invited CNC to make a presentation after learning about their declining numbers earlier this year.
“I would like to hear from CNC how they plan to stop this slide because it’s definitely concerning me, and it’s concerning the community,” said councillor Michael Riis-Christianson earlier this year.
However, when it comes to RPEC’s efforts to replace CNC by establishing a rural campus of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in Burns Lake, council has remained neutral.