North Island College is an institution always looking for new ways – and students — to educate.
And one of the most exciting things, said NIC’s regional director, Karsten Henriksen, is college for the maturest of students.
“There’s a long history of elder college at our Courtenay, Campbell River and Port Alberni campuses and this is the first on the North Island,” he said.
Elder college is a community-driven program designed to encourage life-long learning among the older generation. The Port Alice campus takes in students who are 50 years or older.
“The courses offered are very diverse, everything from basic computers, to how to use your cell phone or mobile device to how to can salmon to birding,” said Henriksen, who noted “everything under the sun” is available, with the exception of degree courses.
“It does, however, allow elder college members to access things like free tuition basically, as well as library service and a whole host of other services the college makes available to our students,” he said.
“It’s also unique in that the elder college draws on its own membership for instruction, so the concept basically is the membership has all lived full, active lives and has a lot of knowledge they can share amongst each other.”
The elder college group in Port Alice has already run one course — a computers for seniors’ course — that was fully subscribed with 14 people and several others assigned to a wait list.
“So we’re going to have to do another one,” said Henriksen.
Classes for older students are fairly common in other parts of the world and it’s no secret why, said Henriksen.
“Research has shown very clearly that the more active our minds are as we age, the better quality of life we all have.”
While the college is in its infancy in Port Alice, it could expand to other areas on the North Island.
“We’d certainly be interested in hearing from community members, but elder college is driven by its membership and if anyone is interested they can give the (North Island) campus a call at 250-949-6712 or they can stop by for a visit and we can sit down and have that conversation,” Henriksen said.