TIMMINS, ON: Northern College is pleased to announce a tentative return to a new normal for the Fall 2021 Semester.
After a year of COVID-19 adjusted programming, Northern College, in consultation with local and regional health authorities, intends to welcome students back to a traditional learning environment as much as possible, utilizing high flex options, modernized by the lessons learned from this unprecedented pandemic, barring any unforeseen changes in the pandemic situation between now and September.
“We are pleased to start the transition to a ‘new normal’ with College programming this fall. Northern College has always led the way in terms of distance learning, which resulted in our ability to quickly pivot to broader online offerings during the pandemic,” stated Dr. Audrey J. Penner, Northern College President and CEO. “The high quality of our programs and the impressive rating of the student experience were both validated through our internal student satisfaction and course feedback.”
The welcome news comes in the form of glowing reviews from Northern’s learners, with the 4,714 students polled with the majority currently learning online, reporting satisfaction rates in the high 90th percentile across a variety of categories including classroom experiences, faculty knowledge, student treatment, along with a high approval of the use and implementation of technology.
“We are encouraged by the fact that students are recognizing the hard work, empathy, skill and experience of our faculty, staff and administrators in delivering top-notch education even during the pandemic. We will continue to exceed expectations, offering high quality, flexible learning as we move into this new normal,” continued Penner. “The hands-on components of programs, shops, labs, and clinics used in hybrid delivery are well developed and Northern’s faculty are excellent at weaving theory and practice together for a holistic learning experience – one that is clearly resonating with our students and appreciated by them.”
The College was one of a select few chosen by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to offer a pilot delivery of select on-site post-secondary programming in its well-regarded field of trades over the summer 2020, setting Northern ahead of schedule for the efficient implementation of physical distancing practices. In certain cases, like one class of a technical trades delivery, materials were moved into the currently unused student pub so that separate stations could be established at even greater distances than before.
“Our smaller classes, and the ingenuity of our faculty in finding solutions that work as we deliver education in small batches of students has served as well,” observed Penner of the state of the College’s wellness procedures so far. “We implemented a pre-screen electronic check feature almost overnight due to a staff member who worked around the clock to make it happen, and it has proved highly beneficial to curbing the transmission of Covid-19. It is our people who have risen to the challenge and found ways to keep students learning and the workforce supplied with much-needed professionals.”
The work being done by Northern College faculty, staff and administrators is not only resonating with current students, it is also making an impact on prospective students as well, with Northern reporting exponential growth in applications, confirmations and program interest for the fall term in a province where the majority of colleges’ numbers in these areas are trending downward.
“The growth we are seeing in applications and confirmations is remarkable,” stated Penner of the recent data. “Our Haileybury Campus has seen a 54 percent increase in applications, Kirkland Lake is reporting a 120 percent increase, Moosonee is up by 100 percent and our Timmins Campus is showing an increase of 43 percent.”
“It is clear that learners and their families are seeking a different experience and are making decisions indicative of that as a result of a changed world over the past year. If I didn’t know the incredible people behind these increases, understand their dedication and commitment to high quality, supportive and hands-on education, these numbers would almost be unbelievable,” continued Penner. “But I do know that each one of these percentiles represents the tireless work and dedication of those at Northern and I’m so pleased that prospective students are seeing it, too.”
Northern College boldly declared itself Canada’s kindest College earlier this year and is committed to living up to that lofty mantel in all aspects of its operations, including its robust bursary programming.
“Every year we dedicate ourselves to providing financial support to our students, whether through our own institutional funding model, or through the generosity of local donors,” stated Nicole Gingras, Northern College’s Alumni and Foundations Officer. “We issue bursaries to our students three times a year in order to support students as they work to complete their studies and pay for life. This winter semester alone, we gave over $340,000 to our deserving students.”
A total of 382 bursaries were issued at Northern College’s campuses in the latter half of 2020 in addition to support funding to help students deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their ability to work and study.
“What an incredible year we’ve had so far at Northern,” stated Dr. Penner. “In spite of the challenges and uncertainty, we’ve found hope and success in the darkest of times. Innovation and creativity have abounded, and what a community we’ve built at Northern. We’re proud this is our foundation for a great future, exceeding expectations – and we fully intend to build on this. We have every reason to celebrate lessons learned and apply them to a brighter, post Covid future for all those who choose to work and learn with us.”
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