Kids who are getting ready to graduate high school on the West Shore and Sooke and want to go to a local university can face barriers with no options close by.

Sooke School District Superintendent Jim Cambridge says kids don’t have easy access to Camosun or UVic because of the long commute to bus there.

“It?s typically an hour to an hour-and-a-half transit ride each way and to lots of students that’s a significant barrier,” said Cambridge.

It could be one of the reasons School District 62 is 19 per cent below the provincial average when it comes to attending university within a year of graduating because their grades aren’t the problem.

“We have to get behind education for students it’s the success of the community and its important for kids to have that opportunity,” said Langford Mayor Stew Young.

“If there was an option in the West Shore, more students would look into it then you’re not wasting that hour to drive into town,” Belmont Secondary School Grade 12 student Nicholas Johl.

With it being one of the fastest growing regions in B.C., the province is looking at ways to improve access to post-secondary education and training for people living in the West Shore and Sooke.

Royal Roads University in Colwood is getting $250,000 from the province to report on possible program delivery options based on need.

The West Shore, which includes Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Highlands and View Royal, had an estimated population of 74,000 last year.

The annual average population growth in Langford over the last decade is 4.7 per cent.

The population of Sooke is around 14,000.

“It’s long overdue. We are the fastest growing community on Vancouver Island and our school district is one of the fastest growing in the province,” said Cambridge.

But what would that look like? Belmont Secondary School Grade 12 student Tyler Hardy has an idea of what he would like it to be.

“Probably like a bridge program style thing so you could explore what you wanted to do for the first couple of years, figure out what you really want to do without having to risk it moving away,” said Hardy.

The planning process will involve students and parents, Sooke School District, Royal Roads, Camosun College, the University of Victoria, First Nations, the advanced education, skills and training ministry and West Shore communities.

“We have to talk to parents and students and employers and first nations and make sure we get a solution here the best academically and the best operationally,” said Cahoon.

The study is expected to take three to four months.

 

** In the video it says 19% below the national average, that mistake has been corrected as it is below the provincial average.**

 

 

 

 

 

Luisa Alvarez