Data Will Help College Serve Students Better
From the Desks of Vice President of College Services Kerry Clarke and Vice President of Education & Students Taya Whitehead…
In November 2022, the college launched a space utilization study across all campuses and learning centres. Selecting Cresa as a vendor through the RFP process, the goal of the study is to achieve effective and consistent space utilization across all facilities.
Over the last few months, Cresa has been compiling data and gathering information through a variety of methods including focus groups and the physical occupancy counts that occurred in mid-March. Though the final report will not be completed until August, we have received some initial data and findings that are important to share as everyone continues to plan for the return of full operations in September.
The good news from the initial data is that we have a lot more space than we thought in terms of both classrooms and offices. Though this will help us moving forward, it also presents challenges. From the College Services side, we must ensure that our operations are running as efficiently as possible so that the overall budget is utilized in a way that serves students best.
What’s clear from the findings is that classroom spaces are currently underutilized. As we continued to transition out of the pandemic in the last few months, it is understandable that it takes time to return to pre-2020 activity. Going forward from the Education & Students side, one point of emphasis needs to be on return to in-person learning.
A vital strength of Selkirk College is the community that we build for students. Much of this is achieved through in-person classes and activity. As we plan for the months ahead, it is imperative that all classes listed in our academic calendar as in-person are delivered on a consistent basis in that manner. Though we have used virtual delivery to get us through the pandemic, it should be used sparingly and only with approval of your supervisor.
An example of the challenges posed by not adhering to the academic calendar is the potential impact it can have on international learners who are working through the permanent residency process. The Canadian government requires students taking this pathway attend in-person and when that doesn’t happen, we are putting both our students and our institutional reputation in jeopardy.
In the latest Student Engagement Survey, the large majority of all learners shared that they prefer in-person classes.
The college expects to receive the Cresa final report in August and we will share the executive summary with all employees at that time. A working committee representing staff from all stakeholder departments has already been formed in anticipation of the next steps. This committee will analyze the findings and get to work on actions which will include a new space utilization policy.
The study falls under the direction of “Modernization of Facilities, Technology and Operations,” a cornerstone in the college’s Strategic Plan 2019—2024, and relates to the Five-Year Capital Plan and Campus Master Plan.
At this point it is important to share some of the early themes and provide transparency to the process. Additional communications will be forthcoming in terms of timelines and what we can all do together to achieve the optimum outcomes. Taking a data-driven approach to our operations will result in informed decision-making and help us move forward in serving students better in the coming years.