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Sea to Sky sees jump in university applications

Weak economy, changing reputations bolster interest in education

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History suggests people are more likely to seek out post-secondary education during a recession. And in the Sea to Sky region this year that phenomenon appears to be true.

Both universities in Squamish - Capilano and Quest - are reporting an increased number of applicants for the fall semester.

"It looks like we are up five or six per cent across the whole institution, and that is probably the same for Howe Sound," said Casey Dorin, dean of Capilano's Squamish campus.

"There is strong speculation that when the economy goes down, people start to feel less secure and feel comfort going back to school. For us, we have the double advantage that we are now a university. We already saw this year that we had a big impact there."

Capilano, along with four other institution in British Columbia, were granted university
status in September 2008.

On the other side of town, Toran Savjord from Quest reported an even bigger jump in applications of 30 to 40 per cent.

While this is partly due to the economy he said the large increase probably has more to do with the fact that Quest will be entering its third year this fall.

"For Quest, our enrolment has gone up, which is probably partly to do with the economy and the value of a degree, but more has to do with us being in our third year and people starting to get to know us," said Savjord, acknowledging Quest's high tuition as a private university.

Quest had 79 students registered in its first year and 83 in its second year.

Savjord, who has worked at nine different colleges and universities throughout B.C., said that he has seen over his career a general spike in applications to post-secondary institutions during tough economic times.

"When the economy goes down, the value of an education goes way up in people's mind," said Savjord.

He added it appears other post-secondary institutions beyond the Sea to Sky Corridor are also noticing the increase in demand.

For example, he said this year Vancouver Island University, formerly Malaspina University College, doubled their enrollment.

"Part of that is due to the fact that they are a university," he said.

Back at Capilano, Dorin said their institution will probably enlarge some programs to meet the increased interest - though probably not at the Squamish campus.
He added, "If you are thinking of coming to university, the message is you need to register earlier than ever, to not only get in here, but to get in anywhere.

"It is going to be much harder this year."

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