After spending several months attempting to find a fiscally sustainable way to deliver the Professional Aviation Program into the future, Selkirk College has made the difficult decision to cancel the program.
Suspended earlier this year due to low enrolment and financial pressures, college administration recommended to the Selkirk College Board of Governors that cancelling the program was the best option. At a meeting on Tuesday night, the board voted to accept the administration’s recommendation.
“This was an extremely difficult decision,” says Neil Coburn, Selkirk College Vice President of Education and Students. “After eight months of review and discussions, weighing all the options, and looking at the viability of the program into the future, this was the most responsible course of action.”
Increased competition from other programs in Western Canada, changes to the way the provincial government funds post-secondary education and challenges in the airline industry itself only compounded the difficulties of offering a high quality program into the future. The program costs more than $1.1 million each year to deliver.
The college initiated a review this past October which examined program outcomes, program structure, enrolment management, financial sustainability and market analysis. After extensive discussion with faculty and the Program Advisory Committee, an agreement on a renewed high quality program that could operate at reduced costs was not achieved.
“We have a responsibility to Selkirk College students in all of our 60-plus programs and disciplines to ensure we are meeting the needs that are best for the entire college community,” says Rhonda Schmitz, Instructional Dean for the Professional Aviation Program. “This program has been an important part of the college for more than four decades, but the ever changing needs of today’s workforce mean that some programs are no longer sustainable and able to be delivered in the community college model.”
The Selkirk College Professional Aviation Program has three students set to return for their second year of study and training this fall. They will complete their diploma prior to the program being closed next spring.
“Like all of our programs, the student is at the core of what we do,” says Coburn. “These three students will remain a priority for us until they complete their training.”
The Selkirk College Professional Aviation Program was founded in 1968 and is based at the West Kootenay Regional Airport in Castlegar.