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College enrolment hits a new high

The number of people signing up for classes at Douglas College in New Westminster is going up and up, as the post-secondary school has hit a new enrolment record for the second year in a row.

The number of people signing up for classes at Douglas College in New Westminster is going up and up, as the post-secondary school has hit a new enrolment record for the second year in a row.

Between the two campuses in New West and Coquitlam, 10,700 students have enrolled for 2011 - a five per cent increase from last year and 12 per cent higher than 2009.

More than half of Douglas students attend the New Westminster campus on Royal Avenue.

College president Scott McAlpine said the growth is due, in part, to word of mouth in the academic and professional world about the school's quality curriculum and teachers.

"Douglas's reputation as an excellent place to get a post-secondary education is growing," he said in a press release. "More people are choosing Douglas based on the strength of our academic and career-based programs, and the quality of our teaching."

Part-time enrolments are up 17 per cent since 2009 - a trend McAlpine attributes to the changing needs of the labour market.

"An increasing number of people are returning to school to upgrade their skills and knowledge," McAlpine said. "The rise in part-time students is indicative of our changing world, in which second career learners - many of whom have work and family commitments - are looking for flexibility in their education."

And it's not just those looking to keep up with industry trends, said Dave Taylor, the college's communications director - a slow to stagnant economy also means some people have to start fresh with their education.

"Enrolment is up (at post-secondary schools) in general, and that's part of an ongoing trend when the economy is flat like it is right now," he said. "People usually take that as a good time to regroup and take a look at where they're going with their careers and get the upgrades and training they need."

Taylor said interest in Douglas' healthcare programs, especially nursing, is at an all-time high as it is one of the few professions expected to grow.

"Our flagships programs are always super popular. Our nursing program is always oversubscribed. The vast majority of people who apply to the program don't get in, and that's just because it is a very good program and there is a lot of need for more nurses" he said.

Increasing numbers of international students are also coming to Douglas, including 1,000 who have signed up this year.

The college has been seeking to increase the number of international students in recent years and was given an award for internationalization in June. The number of students from abroad has doubled since 2007.

brichter@royalcityrecord.com

www.twitter.com/BrentRichter

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