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Providence is 85 Years Old
During Tough Educational Market, One Manitoba School Celebrates 85 Years
In the midst of widespread challenges facing Christian schools across Canada, one Manitoba school comments on the changing Christian educational climate while celebrating its 85th year in operation.
Providence College and Seminary, the oldest Christian college in Manitoba, has experienced enrolment and financial struggles in the past three years.
One aspect impacting the dropping enrolment of many Christian schools is that, for many students, education means taking out loans which must be paid off, causing these young people to search for education that provides not only enrichment of character, but practical training that will afford them a financially viable future.
“By and large, Canadians in the general population have employment and career considerations in mind as they ponder future post-secondary studies. Among 18-24 year olds, more specifically, “getting a better job”, and “earning more money” are the top reasons they’re actively seeking to pursue post-secondary studies,” says a study conducted by Christian Higher Education Canada, a national non-profit association of higher education institutions associated with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC).
“Students in Canada are uncertain about vocational pursuits and are somewhat ambivalent about educational investments following high school,” says Dr. Gus Konkel, president of Providence College and Seminary.
It may be this ambivalence that has caused many schools in Christian Higher Education Canada to experience lower new student enrolments.
“Some of these schools, including Providence College, have experienced modest to good new student enrolments this past fall, which is a positive indication,” says Konkel. “However enrolment drops always require budget cuts, as the biggest single source of income for private schools is tuition. Programs must be maintained with lower budgets, which means greater sacrifices for all.”
Despite the uncertain and ever-changing educational environment, Providence’s operations remain secure due to a few key initiatives, such as the school’s efforts toward degree recognition.
Providence recently announced that its degree programs prepare students to enter post-baccalaureate and graduate studies at the University of Manitoba.
“The University of Manitoba Senate has authorized Providence degrees for eligibility to masters level programs at the university,” says Konkel. “The province of Manitoba will certify as public school teachers students that complete the Providence Bachelor of Arts degree and a university Bachelor of Education program. Providence also continues to partner with other schools in strengthening its offerings.”
Construction is also underway to offer interactive distance education this next year, which will provide more diversity in program delivery and in the education students can receive on campus.
“For the past 85 years Providence has grown significantly in what it is able to offer students,” says Konkel.
While retaining one of the strongest offerings in Bible and theology of all the Christian colleges in Canada, which is its traditional strength, the school has also developed its professional programs including Business Administration, and Communications and Media programs.
“By God's providence, the vision of H. L. Turner in 1925 in founding Winnipeg Bible Institute has become Providence College and Seminary, offering university degrees and a graduate seminary education,” says Konkel. “Workers from various continents have emphasized to me how important university education is to serving abroad. In God's providence, we will continue to offer students from around the world an accredited education they can use in vast variety of vocations and ministry pursuits.”
Providence’s operations remain secure due to the school’s commitment to their faith, their developing programs, and what Konkel feels is the provision Providence staff and faculty afford the school every day they remain committed to maintaining the school’s mission: to teach people to grow in knowledge and character for leadership and service.
10 College Crescent
Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada, R0A 1G0
Phone: (204) 433-7488 or (800) 668-7768
Fax: (204) 433-7158
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Providence University College & Theological Seminary