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University’s economic impact to reach $80M

By Andrew Wareing Growth is the keyword for post-secondary education in Ontario, and North Bay’s Nipissing University is ready for that growth.

By Andrew Wareing

Growth is the keyword for post-secondary education in Ontario, and North Bay’s Nipissing University is ready for that growth.

“Since the university received its charter in 1992 as Canada’s newest university, we’ve seen our full-time student enrolment double to about 2,000 students this year,” says David Marshall, president of the university. “We expect to see that increase to between 2,500 and 2,700 within the next few years.”

It is because of that growth that the university embarked ,in May of 2001, on the $12.5-million, 68,000 square-foot addition to the school, which was completed before the start of classes this fall.

“We’ve just got a few finishing touches to put on it,” says Marshall.

Funding was made available by the Ontario government’s SuperBuild program. Construction was carried out by Gap Construction of North Bay.

“We had tremendous support from the city who lobbied the province on our behalf,” says Marshall. “If it wasn’t for the city’s support, getting the funding might have been more difficult.”

The addition, which includes more classroom and lab space, as well as conference rooms and offices, increases the college’s total space by approximately 30 per cent, he says. The extra lab and classroom space is useful for the university’s new nursing degree program, Marshall says.

Marshall adds, there is a perception by many that the anticipated increase in enrolment is due to next year’s double-cohort of Ontario academic credit (OAC) and Grade 12 graduations. That is not the case.

“If you look at the demographics, there is an increasing number of 18 to 24 year olds (attending university),” he says. “If you put the demographics and the double cohort together, that does increase our expected numbers. But it’s a fact that we are going to need between 80 to 100,000 more university spaces by the year 2010.

“The double-cohort does escalate things. But, by the time the double cohort goes through in four years, the demographic side of it will have caught up,” Marshall says. “This is not a blip. All the professors we’ve hired are permanent to help make our growth sustainable.”

The expansion, along with the construction of residences two years ago, has translated into as much as $25 million in construction projects for the university. While the economic spinoffs in job creation were significant during the construction phase of the expansion, the spinoffs from the increase in enrolment are going to be even bigger, says Marshall.

“The biggest spinoff is the economic multiplier of bringing in more students into the community,” he says.

“We’re estimating that will grow from $50 million this year to between $70 million and $80 million by 2005. That’s huge for this community,” Marshall says. “We have 24 new faculty members who will be coming into the community buying houses and cars. Each new student that comes to North Bay with $15,000 in (his or her) pocket - multiply that by 2,500 and you can see what the economic impact will be from student spending alone.”