At a glance
Nestled amid the majestic mountains, beautiful water bodies, and amazing wildlife, the West Kootenay region of British Columbia is home to six campuses of Selkirk College, a five-decade-old post-secondary community college.
With more than 2,500 full-time students, Selkirk College offers more than 60 diplomas, degree and certificate programs in areas such as business; environment and geomatics; health; hospitality and tourism; and peace and justice studies. Students can choose to study full-time, part-time, in-person, online, or in a blended format.
How International Students Make a Difference
With a welcoming community atmosphere, appealing location, quality education, and great facilities, the institution plans to focus on adding to its international student numbers.
Danny Beatty, Director, International Education and Development, Selkirk College, says, “International students enrich the discussions and bring a unique perspective into the classroom.”
International students also contribute to the local economy not only by filling important service sector jobs but by renting homes and apartments in the community. Over the last 5-7 years, a growing number of international students have found good, permanent jobs locally and choose to settle in the Selkirk College communities of Castlegar, Nelson, and Trail, adding a vibrant cultural dimension to the West Kootenay region.
The small rural college in British Columbia does face unique barriers to the recruitment of international students though. “Most international students come from cities and are familiar with the lifestyle and amenities of a larger urban center. However, some international students choose a remote college due to the low cost of living,” says Beatty.
Most years, international students form a strong contingent of student government, which ensures that international student needs are not neglected. The institution also hosts ‘dinner basket conversations’ where local Canadian students and international students share a meal and discuss important topics related to student life. On-campus clubs and drop-in athletic nights draw large numbers of Canadian and international students, which builds community and enables international students to feel a part of the Selkirk community.
Key Target Markets Going Forward
Selkirk receives a large number of students from both India and the Philippines due to the size of those markets and the number of students with a desire to study in Canada. The college also receives significant numbers from Korea and Japan, primarily for its English language program. “We continue to actively market Selkirk programs in Vietnam, Mexico, and China,” says Beatty. The goal is to continue achieving diversity in enrollments from countries around the world.
Some of the unique support services that the institution offers to gain more international students include a free peer tutoring network, an early alert system that provides academic support to students struggling academically early in the semester, and a range of on-campus activities that help international students feel at home and develop friendships.
Achieving Success With MSM
The MSM GMO partnership enabled Selkirk College to grow its international student numbers from 120 to 500 in the space of a few years, with 2019 as its best year ever, peaking at 800 international students. “The MSM model of managing the marketing and recruitment efforts in India and the Indian subcontinent, as well as Africa, was the best decision we made with regards to international recruitment. The MSM team on the ground can develop long-term relationships with agents and consultants and provide in-depth, up-to-date market intelligence that would not be possible to do remotely from Canada,” says Beatty. In particular, the year-round visitation of local agent offices to promote Selkirk College programs has increased awareness among prospective students.
In 2013, before beginning work with MSM, Selkirk College had approximately 175 international students. By the following year, due primarily to growth in the India market as a result of the partnership with MSM, Selkirk increased international enrollments to 314. One year later, this rose to 457, and before COVID-19 impacted growth, Selkirk reached 800 international students.
Since Selkirk College partnered with MSM in 2014, the initial targets were approximately 30 students per year. “MSM exceeded this target the first year, recruiting over 100 students under the new partnership, and has exceeded targets every year. Strong student applications numbers and conversion to tuition-paying students have been achieved by the tireless work of the MSM team on the ground, working to promote Selkirk programs to the agent network through frequent visits, spot admissions seminars, and annual visits by the Selkirk College team,” explains Beatty.
MSM has also succeeded in recruiting students for many undergraduate diploma programs such as Resort and Hotel Management, which were struggling with domestic enrollment. By filling unused seats in undersubscribed programs, MSM has not only brought diversity to these programs but enabled Selkirk to keep programs with low domestic enrollment open.