September 30, 2020

BY CALEIGH MCLELLAND

At the first College Council meeting of the new year, council members shared some exciting changes and initiatives that will be happening at Conestoga.

The council is a group of college students and staff who provide advice to the president on matters of importance.

According to Alan Vaughan, vice-president of enrolment management and international education at Conestoga, this year has proved to be successful in terms of international student enrolment at the college.

And with 138 new international students in degree and diploma programs since January alone, the college needs to make sure there are services available to support them in both their academic lives and personal lives, by better integrating them into the college.

In a recent survey, international students asked for more job opportunities on campus and assistance with making new friends.

CSI will, therefore, be providing 10 to 15 international students with on-campus jobs.

The number of students who have English as their second language enrolling at the college annually was also a topic of discussion. It was suggested that an English course for first-year ESL students be provided.

“It is one thing to bring international students here, but it is our job to keep them by providing good services to support them,” said Vaughan.

In other international education news, there will be a post-graduate embedded systems development program beginning at the college in May that will be targeted toward international students.

Council members also discussed an exciting concept called Energy Village.

“We wanted a site to put us at the forefront of renewable energy and conservation,” said Conestoga College president, John Tibbits.

The vision of Energy Village is to establish a research and learning facility to educate and innovate in the fields of energy renewal and conservation.

The concept paper will be given to the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in early March, and if they like the idea, the college will complete their research and move forward with a business plan.

“This is going to positively impact the trades and engineering programs,” said Tibbits. “It will also attract international students and create jobs.”

Next on the agenda was Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities.

With a nine per cent increase in students registering with the college’s Disability Services this past year, and a new range of disabilities being presented, Conestoga’s immediate goal is to prevent barriers for all people with disabilities, including students, faculty and visitors.

Right now, accessible education is only provided upon request, but “as of today, everything we do will meet the standards of accommodation,” said Michael Dinning, vice-president of student affairs and student services. “We are working diligently to get the resources in order.”

Dinning added that “what we’re presenting in the classroom must be accessible to all as we move forward.”

It will be necessary for all videos to be captioned, and teachers are learning how to make all documents accessible.

Other suggestions included the idea of electronic books, and more online notes.

Next, Ciara Byrne, president of Conestoga Students Inc., presented CSI’s news.

She said the U-Pass, a universal GRT bus pass, will no longer be implemented in September. Instead, Conestoga’s shuttle service will be expanding with the possibility of extended hours and longer routes.

A second driver and a new bus for next year are also being considered.

In other CSI news, Byrne said the recreation centre will soon be getting a makeover.

A survey of students is currently underway, asking them for their thoughts.