Reported by Tanner Bokor
For the first time in its history, Langara failed to meet provincial full-time domestic enrolment (FTE) targets, putting the college at risk of losing government funding.
Langara gets provincial funding for 7,056 domestic students, but because they came up short by 202 full-time domestic seats last year the college is theoretically at risk of losing $2.1 million going forward.
“We’re in a trough as far as the population of college-aged students [goes],” said Ian Humphreys, Langara’s provost and vice-president academic and students. In 2015-16, Langara saw a total domestic enrolment of 6,854, or 202 fewer than what is funded by the B.C. government.
Losing government funding is a rare occurrence
According to a budget letter sent to the college in August by the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, failure to meet provincial FTE targets runs the risk of seeing some funding redirected to other institutions.
Humphreys said this rarely occurs in B.C. as other institutions across the province are often far off of their FTE targets.
“If you look across the province, various institutions fail to meet their targets quite significantly, especially in rural areas, where they are more affected by population change and by the economy,” Humphreys said. “I can’t think of an instance where the government has ever reduced funding as a result of institutions not meeting targets.”
Humphreys said domestic enrolment has been falling by one to 1.5 per cent each year for almost the past decade.
“We come within a couple percentage points all the time of meeting our targets. I’m not overly concerned,” he said. “We are engaging in a recruitment initiative to try and change the direction that the trend is moving.”
College will look to international students to fill decrease
Humphreys said the college is focusing on international enrolment to fill expected funding shortfalls in future years.
“We charge a small premium over the actual cost of delivery to our international students, and that does contribute and offset some of the deficit that we would incur on delivery to domestic students,” said Humphreys. Langara charges its international students up to six times more than domestic students.
By provincial law, the college cannot increase domestic tuition above two per cent per year, while the College Board can set international tuition rates as it sees fit.
The province gives $44 million a year to the college’s $115 million budget, a contribution which has increased by 34 per cent over the past seven years. The remaining amount is collected through tuition and program fees, contracted services and investment revenue.
Andrew Wilkinson, B.C.’s Minister of Advanced Education, said Langara’s finances are historically stable.
“Langara actually does very well in terms of financial performance, and delivers the product as it’s needed to,” said Wilkinson. “It’s also in that special situation where it doesn’t consume a lot of supplies, like a welding program or a heavy mechanic program would,” he said.