Lethbridge post-secondary institutions report steady enrolment despite COVID-19 pandemic

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Lethbridge post-secondary institutions report steady enrolment despite COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: Some students are taking to social media to post about their decisions to drop out or postpone post-secondary classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But as Emily Olsen reports, Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge report enrolment numbers are so far consistent with previous years thanks to added campus supports – Jan 15, 2021

Post-secondary students have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with some choosing to postpone classes or drop out altogether due to financial strain or difficulty with virtual learning.

But Lethbridge College officials say so far, enrolment this year is consistent with last year.

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“We’ve certainly been focused on students’ success and providing extra advice and resources,” Lethbridge College president and CEO Paula Burns said Friday. “And really just championing the role of education, post-pandemic.”

The University of Lethbridge’s director of enrolment services Natasha Buis Deering said she’s seen a balance of student perspectives.

“For as many students as I’ve got talking to me about reducing their course loads,” Buis Deering said, “I’ve got also the chunk of students that are like, ‘I can fly through this, and I love online learning!'”

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The changes have offered a new perspective to institutions on how to better support students and provide resources.

“Across the board, our different service areas are really seeing an uptick in students no longer trying to just kind of get through it themselves,” said Amanda Parker, co-ordinator for student success at Lethbridge College.

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Mental health has been a major part of the increased services for both the college and university.

“Last year we saw a 30 per cent increase in the demand for mental health support counselling and workshops,” the U of L’s associate vice-president of students, Kathleen Massey, said Friday. “And we’ve added new workshops as well.”

Industry partners like ASET (the Association of Science and Engineering Technology) have also stepped up to assist with hands-on learning opportunities and to give support to instructors to better facilitate future professionals — such as in the engineering technology program at Lethbridge College.

“They thought of every element that might take place in the classroom, and they’ve just, they’ve delivered on it in a different way,” ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh said.

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Post-secondary officials say they feel more prepared than ever to help students navigate appropriate course loads and find resources in the future thanks to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

“We’ve realized, moreso than before, how resilient students are,” Parker said.

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