Impact Stories

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Northern Lights College

First MSM Partner Now Sought-After in the Indian Market

By Elizabeth Francisco, MSM staff writer

At a glance

Who knew that one simple idea could pave the way for a college in a humble Canadian town to grow their international community to record numbers?

Founded in 1975, Northern Lights College (NLC) offers postsecondary education to Northern British Columbia. Currently it has campuses in Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Fort St. John, and Tumbler Ridge, as well as access centers in Atlin, Dease Lake, and Hudson’s Hope.

Over the years, NLC has been growing in diversity by welcoming students from different parts of the world. Their journey is closely tied with the beginning of MSM, then an educational agency that was on the cusp of transitioning into a service provider in the international education sector.

Humble Beginnings

It all started at the Ahmedabad residence of MSM CEO Sanjay Laul, where he proposed the idea of building a global or in-country office to an NLC official while college officials were at the tail end of their promotional tour in India.

“Appoint us as your country office and we will manage all your on-ground promotions. A dedicated team is ready,” Sanjay said to Shelley Nickel, then an international director for recruitment at the institution.

Nickel believed in the idea, brought it home with her, and pitched it to executives of the college. In 2013, NLC officially became MSM’s first client.

Now, NLC garners an average increase of 115% in international students every year in its partnership with MSM. In its seven-year journey as NLC’s recruitment partner in India and other territories, MSM has become a proud partner of 40 higher education institutions across Canada and even in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe.

For 45 years, NLC has been providing exceptional training and filling in the high-demand for workers in the trades, oil, gas, and clean energy industry, earning the title B.C.’s Energy College. Since its establishment, it has been recognized to have three Centers of Excellence: clean energy technology, oil and gas, and aerospace.

NLC is strategically located in Dawson Creek, a city in British Columbia known for oil and gas extraction. This area is also known for its trade, warehousing, construction, and healthcare industries. Dawson Creek has since seen significant uptick in immigrants via international students choosing to settle in the city.

There are Aboriginal gathering spaces on its Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, and Fort St. John campuses. These are considered safe spaces for all students to relax and share understanding and knowledge.

Dedicated Country Office in Action

Despite having over 200 agents in the Indian market, NLC was unable to recruit students from India for many years.
After getting appointed as the college’s country office, MSM built a dedicated team of three who undertook the following important tasks in response to its challenge: reaching out to the right agents, identifying target cities, and carrying out extensive brand promotions.
The dedicated country office initiative was backed by a strong communication strategy.
The result was phenomenal. In a span of one year, MSM was able to recruit over 100 students. In two years’ time, NLC became one of the most popular destinations in BC for Indian students.
“When we first signed a contract with Northern Lights College, we were just focused on providing the best quality of service and delivering results,” said Suneetha Qureshi, MSM Vice President for Global. “We didn’t imagine that MSM would grow this much in just a short amount of time and, along with the growth, be able to deliver a steady flow of international students to the college.”
According to Qureshi, the experienced consultation on reliable, cost-effective recruitment solutions that MSM provided became an important vehicle NLC to outperform its peers, employ effective direct recruiting, and develop robust agent channels.
“Ours is a foolproof strategy that ensures there’s a strong return on investment and we effectively eliminate risk of failure,” she added.

The NLC Advantage

As a member of BC Colleges, a provincial group comprising 11 colleges, NLC has a collaborative stance that allows its graduates to emerge as highly skilled graduates who are able to support their families, build healthier communities, and power the economy in all BC regions.

Its academic and vocational programs directly contribute to the local economy and have allowed students to easily find employment after graduation. According to 91 percent of its graduates, their education was useful in getting employed.

More than providing high-quality education, NLC’s two-year programs also offer the lowest tuition in Northern British Columbia. The institution works closely with the University of British Columbia and provides transfer opportunities for students who wish to get their bachelor’s degree.

NLC has received donations from both government and non-government organizations, which they invest in improving their facilities and infrastructure. In 2019, they received a jet from Top Aces to help their students get hands-on training.

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