An overall picture of NVIT’s students is reflected by the following data:
· 85% of NVIT’s students are Aboriginal (Status, non-Status, Metis, Inuit);
· less than 25% typically come from the Nicola Valley; over 70% come from elsewhere in British Columbia and approximately 5% come from other parts of Canada;
· approximately 80% undertake full-time studies;
· student age distribution is approximately 26% 24 and under, 31% 25-34, 26% 35-44, and 17% 45 and over; and
· a typical male/female distribution is 36%/64%.
Until 2003-2004 NVIT experienced modest but steady growth. Since 1998-1999 our FTE production increased from 144.9 to 199.9, an increase of 55 FTEs or 38%.
Includes 27.9 FTEs for credit courses and programs delivered under contract in communities. Approval to count this activity was received in 2002-2003; such activity could not be included earlier.
As of early 2004 when this Service Plan was being prepared, the FTE production for 2003-2004 was expected to decrease approximately 15-20 FTE. We understand that this experience is similar to that of a number of the rural community colleges. This drop may have resulted from the significant tuition increases at institutions throughout BC over the last few years. The projected FTE drop in part occurred in Winter 2004 enrolment relative to the year before and in part in decreased off-campus, community-based delivery of “countable” credit programming. The latter is expected to not only recover but to show substantial growth in 2004-2005 as just prior to year-end several contracts were confirmed for community-based program delivery in 2004-2005.
3. Financial Factors
In spite of the overall funding reductions experienced in 2002-2003 and the subsequent challenges in balancing relatively flat base funding with increasing employee salary and benefit costs, NVIT has been able to increase its programming, control its expenditures and develop a financial reserve. An effective tool in achieving this has been the implementation of a 3% (of budgeted revenues) contingency reserve in annual operating budgets.
Over the fiscal years 2004-05 and 2005-06 (and possibly 2006-07) NVIT plans to create deficit budgets and fund the deficits from its financial reserve. Similar to 2003-04 when the Information Technology certificate program (in collaboration with Cisco Systems) was implemented using existing funds, during 2004-05 we plan to fund and implement a Law Enforcement Preparation certificate program in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Justice Institute. We are also undertaking self-funded development of a small number of online courses to be delivered under the BCcampus umbrella.
Other than what may occur from internal reallocation of program funding priorities, community-based contract programming, and the above program initiatives, additional programs beyond these will require new funds. Also, the innovative joint SFU/NVIT degree program in Aboriginal Community Economic Development is not fully self-sustaining and may require funding once interim support funding ceases. Furthermore, two years from now, if additional base funding is not forthcoming NVIT will need to begin reducing its programs and services in order to stay within its financial resources.
NVIT’s tuition strategy has been to maintain tuition levels similar to BC’s rural community colleges. While recognizing the need for tuition to assist in the funding of its operations, we are also keenly aware of the financial challenges faced by Aboriginal students and students generally. As noted in an above section, 25% of Aboriginal former students in the college and institute system reported having to interrupt their studies for financial reasons compared to 15% of non-Aboriginal students. Education costs for Aboriginal students are exacerbated by the fact that across the province 29% of former Aboriginal student as opposed to 19% of non-Aboriginal former students report having to relocate to attend courses and programs (see earlier section). As approximately 75% of NVIT’s students relocate to the Nicola Valley in order to attend our programs, tuition rates that exceed that of the rural community colleges will in our view pose a significant hardship and may negatively affect our enrolment.