KAMLOOPS-The Government of British Columbia has taken a bold step forward in creating new educational and economic opportunities in the Interior by announcing today that The University College of the Cariboo (UCC) in Kamloops will become B.C.'s newest university.
In a dramatic two-part announcement, Premier Gordon Campbell and the Hon. Shirley Bond, Minister of Advanced Education, also unveiled plans to expand the scope of the new university by announcing that UCC will acquire assets and responsibilities of the BC Open University, moving it to the Kamloops campus as part of the new university.
B.C.'s newest university will have a new name, and its own, separate legislation to clearly define it as a teaching-focused university offering a comprehensive range of programs. The target date for the legal creation of the new university is April 2005.
UCC will also receive significant capital funding for an immediate expansion of facilities in both Kamloops and Williams Lake. New or expanded facilities will need to be built in Kamloops to house BCOU operations and staff (estimated to be between 120 - 140 people) and a proposed new Library/Learning Commons facility will also proceed. In Williams Lake, the government has committed $12 million to create a new campus by renovating and expanding the former Anne Stevenson Secondary School facility.
By 2009 - 2010, UCC will receive $5.5 million more operating funding than it does today for 800 new spaces, plus the annual budget of BCOU (grant and tuition revenue) The new university will have an estimated enrolment of 10,000 - 11,000 FTE students, including 800 newly funded FTEs at the university, 2,200 FTEs that come with the BCOU, and an anticipated 1,500 International FTEs . (There are currently 6,800 FTEs at UCC).
The direct economic impact of construction projects and new student spaces is estimated to reach $100 million in the region. As well, as the operations of the BC Open University move to Kamloops over the next two to three years, it will bring a significant number of new residents to the community.
The establishment of UCC as a university is also expected to create even greater access to research grants and funding for faculty at UCC, further adding to the economic impact picture of UCC across the region.
The announcement also outlined the transition process in the months ahead.
Over the next 12 months, it will be 'business as usual' at both UCC in Kamloops and at the BC Open University in Burnaby, as provincial legislation is drafted and a detailed transition plan developed.
Students entering programs in the Fall of 2004 will graduate from the 'new university' starting in June 2005, but there is no change expected in the open access university admission policy of UCC, and tuition fees this fall should not change from those already announced.
Separate legislation will create a special purpose university that will deliver a comprehensive range of programs (including degrees, diplomas, certificates, trades, vocational and adult basic education programs) serving the needs of the province and maintaining the open access principles and flexibility that also are fundamental to the success of BC Open University/Open College programs.
A transition committee will be put in place almost immediately to begin the process of planning and consultation, leading to the legal creation of the new university in legislation by a target date of April 2005.
A more detailed Questions & Answers <http://www.cariboo.bc.ca/liaison/news2.html> document elaborates on some details, and during the months ahead UCC and BCOU will continue to provide updates to employees and the community as the transition process unfolds.
UCC President Roger Barnsley, who will chair the Transition Committee, called the announcement historic and unprecedented.
"Far beyond being a simple change of name, this decision by government creates a truly unique university that will put Kamloops at the forefront of university cities in Canada," said President Barnsley.
"By adding to our new university the incredible depth and flexibility of Open University programs, we are about to embark on an adventure that will make us leaders in our country, and indeed in the world when it comes to being a university for the 21st century.
"I truly believe that the opportunities for the future are unlimited, and in saying this I would also like to acknowledge and recognize the contribution of our community as a whole in making this day a reality.
"From the grassroots support of the community carried forward by the Friends of UCC University Society, to the business and community leaders and our local MLAs who have worked hard to lend their influence and expertise, this is a day to celebrate."