Medicine Hat College has discontinued two of its English-language-learning programs – English as a Second Language for New Canadians and English for Academic Purposes – following low enrolment rates.
“We regularly review programs for vitality and sustainability,” Timothy Spielman, dean of Business and Continuing Studies, told the News. “We determined the ESL and EAP programs had hit the point where the declining enrolments had put us in an unsafe, unsustainable situation … And so, unfortunately, we needed to discontinue the programs.”
While the programs used to be quite popular, especially with international students and new Canadians, enrolment for both has been declining over the past five years.
“Of course, COVID contributed,” said Spielman, “And there have been an increasing number of government-funded non-academic programs.
“Those programs tend to offer funding to the students to live, as well as to take courses. So, those types of programs have a natural competitive advantage over traditional programming.”
One such program is the federally-funded Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program, or LINC. The LINC program not only works to improve students’ English-language skills; it also aims to inform them of Canadian culture and customs, community resources, essential workplace skills and job search tools. LINC is currently offered at MHC’s Brooks campus and, locally, at Saamis Immigration Services Association.
“The LINC program and the ABLE program, in particular – one is a federal program, the other is a provincial program – those continued to remain relatively strong from the perspective of enrolment. And so when there’s multiple programs and there’s declining enrolment in one, then it becomes a question of sustainability again,” said Spielman. “We have fiduciary duty, as a public entity, to ensure we have sustainable programs.”
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News