Post-Secondary Education Expanding For Students on the Westshore
A new collaborative post-secondary campus will be built in one of Canada’s fastest-growing communities so more students can access education close to home for in-demand jobs.
“The people of the Westshore have waited a long time to have another post-secondary campus in their community,” said Premier John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. “Residents will now be able to further their education right here at home without needing to live in – or commute to – another city. I know this will encourage even more people in the Westshore to get an education that is the key to future prosperity. British Columbia will have one million job openings in the coming decade. Four of every five of those jobs will require a post-secondary education or specialized skills training. Our government will continue to make the investments necessary to ensure the skills gap is closed.”
The campus in downtown Langford is a first-of-its-kind partnership between Royal Roads University (RRU), the University of Victoria (UVic), Camosun College and the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC). It will also include space for programming by School District 62 (Sooke).
It will serve the educational needs of students from Sooke and the Westshore municipalities of Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands. The new campus will serve students from First Nations throughout southern Vancouver Island, particularly those on the Westshore, including T’Sou-ke (Sooke), Pacheedaht (Port Renfrew), Scia’new (Beecher Bay), Xwsepsum (Esquimalt), Lekwungen (Songhees) and Malahat.
The region has lower-than-average direct-to-post-secondary transition rates (38% compared to the provincial average of 51%), with residents identifying long commutes as one of the barriers to pursuing post-secondary education. Significant population growth is projected to continue over the next decade on the Westshore, and the community has more residents under the age of 15 than the rest of the province.
“This unique and innovative campus is a fantastic example of post-secondary institutions collaborating to invest in students, and the programs and infrastructure they need to be future ready for their careers,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This new model brings the strengths of four post-secondary institutions closer to people so that they can pursue the education they need to help build a stronger B.C.”
Programs and micro-credentials offered will include a new common foundations program to prepare students for a variety of fields. This will be offered for business, hospitality, environmental practice and communications studies at RRU. UVic will offer computer science, engineering and humanities courses. Camosun College will offer health-care assistant and educational assistant training, and JIBC will offer paramedic and first-responder training. Adult upgrading and education programs will also be offered from School District 62.
The five-storey mass timber building will include flexible learning spaces and classrooms, student supports, a multi-purpose classroom called the Innovation Studio, and space for Indigenous gatherings. The project is planned to meet the Zero Carbon Building design standard, the first public post-secondary institution in B.C. to target this, in addition to targeting LEED Gold certification. Both standards are administered by the Canada Green Building Council.
The $98-million project includes a $77.8-million investment from the provincial government for the construction of the building, and $18.5 million from Royal Roads University for the land purchase plus an additional $500,000 for capital costs. Additional capital contributions include $1 million from the University of Victoria and $200,000 from Camosun College.
The City of Langford has committed to invest in parking for the campus, as well as road infrastructure upgrades valued at $27.5 million, including $1.5 million in funding over 10 years for development and support of the Innovation Studio. As part of the commitment to the project, the city has formed a Langford Education Fund, contributing $75,000 annually for five years to support local youth graduating high school that want to attend post-secondary in Langford.
“This investment is so important for students,” said Philip Steenkamp, president, Royal Roads University, on behalf of the partner institutions. “As we see many more people looking for post-secondary training, this campus will allow us and our partners to offer an expanded suite of options for learners at every age and stage.”
The campus is anticipated to open in fall 2024 with approximately 600 students. By 2035-36, at full capacity, the campus will serve an estimated 1,300 full-time students.
Funding for the new post-secondary campus on the Westshore is part of StrongerBC’s Future Ready Plan. Future Ready is making education and training more accessible, affordable and relevant to help businesses grow and prepare British Columbians for the jobs of tomorrow.
- The Westshore is one of the fastest growing regions in Canada, with a population growth of nearly 50% between 2001 and 2016, and that growth is projected to continue by another 33% over the next decade.
- The campus will be located at 798 Goldstream Ave. in downtown Langford.
A backgrounder follows.
What people are saying about the Westshore campus
Kevin Hall, president, University of Victoria –
“We are glad to be able to bring more education options to the Greater Victoria area, including sought-after UVic programming, such as computer science, engineering and humanities. This collaborative campus is a new and promising model of delivering programming that meets community demand and serves the needs of Westshore students and the region.”
Lane Trotter, president, Camosun College –
“A new Westshore campus breaks down physical barriers to accessing high-quality education closer to home for students living in the region. Camosun has been offering courses at many locations in the Westshore for a number of years, such as Belmont Secondary school where over 600 students have already taken our programs. The college’s focus in the Westshore is currently on delivering university-transfer classes, adult upgrading courses and educational assistant training. New space will allow the college to add diploma and certificate programming in computer systems technology, early learning and care, and health-care assistance.”
Michel Tarko, president, Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) –
“We are pleased to have a new campus location to call home on Vancouver Island, where we can continue to offer our world-class training in paramedicine – emergency medical responder, primary care paramedic and advanced-care paramedic programs – as well as professional development courses in public safety fields, such as emergency management. The new JIBC facilities will be purpose-built and cost-effective, and allow us to potentially offer expanded programming to help meet labour market demands.”
Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin –
“With how quickly our Westshore communities are growing, there is no question that people will benefit from this new campus. This will reduce barriers so more people, including youth, across our communities can pursue higher education and skills training closer to home.”
Stew Young, mayor, City of Langford –
“Providing post-secondary opportunity for Langford youth has been a top priority for council for many years. This unique partnership will serve residents across the entire Westshore, will remove barriers to access and provide pathways to higher learning for all. As Langford densifies the downtown core and creates a walkable, modern city, the addition of the urban campus will complement that vision and bring even more vibrancy to our fast-growing community.”
Ravi Parmar, chair of the board of education, School District 62 (Sooke) –
“Like many others, I have first-hand experience commuting from Langford to the University of Victoria to complete my degree. Long commutes negatively impact students from a time management and a cost perspective. The addition of a collaborative post-secondary campus on the Westshore demonstrates a serious commitment to investing in the future needs of our community. It offers local students a viable option that removes some of the more traditional barriers of accessing post-secondary education, like finding a rental near campus or cumbersome daily commutes to attend classes. It’s an exciting opportunity for our secondary students to have a path to further education, right here at home.”
Connor Hogan, student, Belmont High school –
“As a high school student in Langford, we’re faced with quite a long commute if we want to go to school at UVic or at Camosun, and that can really affect our decision with what school we go to. When this new campus opens up, it will definitely help open some doors for us to study where we are, close to home.”