To the Editor;
As members of the community may be aware, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is ending its lease for the building that housed our learning centre in Barriere. While we’ve had this space in the community for a long time, we have faced challenges over the years with low enrollments and high costs to deliver our programs. The pandemic unfortunately, has magnified this situation.
With pandemic safety-related concerns, most education is being delivered online at TRU. Since the pandemic, there has been no face-to-face education offered in Barriere, compared to 102 courses in 2018-2019. However, approximately 60 students in the Barriere community have taken advantage of our online offerings. The leased facility has been essentially empty for many months and to continue this way is no longer sustainable.
I’d like to reassure the community that TRU will continue to provide continuing education programming in Barriere. What is changing is how and where we do this.
Through the regional centre in Barriere, we provided university-prep courses, workplace health and safety training, and occasionally trades programming through our mobile training unit. We work with industry partners to determine specific training needs, and host programs and courses to match local needs. This type of collaboration with community partners on educational needs will not change. And in the future, we may use short-term-rental spaces, on an as-needed basis.
We know this represents a change, but we also see possibilities going forward. The pandemic has opened up new opportunities for rural students that didn’t exist before, through access to more virtual learning. We also know students are increasingly taking advantage of virtual and distance learning, including our Open Learning courses. As a result of ongoing COVID-19 challenges, we have established cohort-based learning via distance delivery. This has created increased access to a whole new form of learning for students.
Looking ahead, we see Barriere very much as part of our TRU community. We are excited about the value this facility will bring to the Barriere community and beyond. We also remain committed to providing programming in Barriere and each of our regional communities.
Dean, Trades and Technology
Thompson Rivers University