UBC Okanagan to continue strong growth trend

Image Credit: UBC Okanagan

KELOWNA - UBC Okanagan has doubled its student head count and tripled its floor space since starting out in 2005 but there’s no plan to slow down.

UBC Okanagan principal Deborah Buszard told Kelowna council Monday morning, Jan. 25, she would like to see another 1,000 to 2,000 seats at the campus in north Kelowna by 2020, mainly in the faculties of engineering and computer science.

“My hope is the provincial government ahead of the next election will announce it is going to put more seats in the areas that will drive the economy,” Buszard said. “I think by that time would like to see a significant increase in the number of international students possibly another 700.”

The head count is currently about 8,500 students. Buszard said the university has already increased the number of engineering seats from 600 to 1,000 using "internal transfers".

While the university has spent some $400 million expanding the campus since taking it over in 2005 from the former Okanagan Universty College, Buszard said the university has had initial support from the province for a $35-million teaching and learning facility.

She told councillors the university has already secured funding for $20 million and is hoping for $15 million from the province.

Included within that facility would likely be a 450-seat lecture theatre, which Buszard said would benefit the entire community.

“We need a larger classroom. Some of our large first year classes have to be delivered in multiple stages because we don’t have a room big enough,” she added.

Buszard cautioned councillors of the strict cost controls the government has placed on post-secondary education as a possible impediment to future plans.

“The government has a strict line on not incurring more costs. They short-sightedly think of post secondary education as a cost, not a benefit to the economy.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

— This story was updated at 4:22 p.m., Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 to change the photo to one of the UBC Okanagan campus.

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