Langara College offers plenty of career programs, but its primary role is providing a bridge to university

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Next month, Langara College’s students and staff will be able to enter a shiny new $48.9-million edifice on campus. The 12,000-square-metre Science & Technology Building will house the biology, chemistry, and physics departments, as well as labs for students enrolled in computer science and information systems, kinesiology, and nursing.

      “It’s a spectacular new space with many state-of-the-art facilities,” Ian Humphreys, Langara provost and vice-president, academic and students, told the Straight by phone. “It comes at an opportune time, as we’ve seen a big uptick in demand for science-and-technology programs.”

      Langara offers a wide variety of career programs, including early childhood education, journalism, social services, marketing, library and information systems, and nursing. In addition, the college’s Studio 58 is widely admired for its theatre training. But according to Humphreys, Langara is “first and foremost” a steppingstone for those wanting to obtain university degrees.

      Of the college’s 11,000 students, approximately 80 percent enroll in first- and second-year courses recognized by teaching and research-intensive B.C. universities.

      “We are actually the largest single transfer institution to UBC and to SFU,” Humphreys said. “We also transfer students to UVic and, actually, to universities across Canada.”

      Langara staff take pride in making university accessible to students who might not have had the grades or necessary skills to reach UBC or SFU had they applied directly from high school. Humphreys pointed out that when many Langara science students reach university in their third year, they become lab demonstrators because they obtained superior hands-on experience in smaller college classes.

      “If you look at the performance of students who go, say, to UBC from Langara,” Humphreys said, “they generally perform better than students who enter university from high school. They’re better prepared and able to succeed. And it probably costs them a lot less money.”

      Although a majority of Langara’s students enroll straight out of high school, a growing number are returning to postsecondary education in their late 20s and early 30s to upgrade their skills. The college has an extensive continuing-education program to cater to those who want to enhance their credentials while remaining in the workforce. Adding in students in this area, total enrollment is around 24,000 per year.

      For Humphreys and other administrators, the key is making sure they get the balance right to ensure sustainability not only from a financial perspective, but also in terms of quality assurance and ensuring there are adequate supports in place for students and faculty to make sure they are successful.

      Langara’s alumni include former premier Ujjal Dosanjh, actor Jay Brazeau, city councillor Elizabeth Ball, broadcaster Simi Sara, newspaper columnist Gary Mason, and actor and comedian Colin Mochrie.