More attend Bible schools

The future looks bright for Central Alberta Bible colleges. There’s no sign Canadian University College, Prairie Bible Institute and Living Faith Bible College will follow suit of Gardner College.

A pedestrian walks through the Canadian University College campus. Classes at Canadian University College start on Sept. 7.

A pedestrian walks through the Canadian University College campus. Classes at Canadian University College start on Sept. 7.

The future looks bright for Central Alberta Bible colleges.

There’s no sign Canadian University College, Prairie Bible Institute and Living Faith Bible College will follow suit of Gardner College. The Camrose-based college is reportedly not accepting students in the fall because of low enrolment and financial woes.

All three local institutes project a significant spike in enrolment for the upcoming school year.

Lacombe-based Canadian University College estimates more than 550 students, up 57 students from last year, will enrol this year.

This follows record-breaking enrolment year of 493 students, the highest in its 104 year-history.

Nicole Bartolay, CUC office manager for marketing and enrolment, credits the surge to an increased awareness in the necessity of post-secondary education and the desire of students to study closer to home.

The college also boasts an education program where students can graduate with a bachelor of education without the need to finish at another institute.

The Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills will have one of the largest incoming classes in recent years this fall.

The school is comprised of three separate colleges — Prairie Bible College, Prairie College of Applied Arts and Technology and Prairie Scholl of Mission Aviation.

Peter Mal, Prairie Bible Institute managing director of enrolment and marketing, said 180 new students will start classes. That is one of the largest intakes in the last decade.

The 2011-2012 enrolment is expected to be in the 300 student range, an increase of 50 students. Mal said the college has watched as enrolment dwindled in the last seven years and is optimistic about future enrolments.

He credits the increasing popularity in one-year certificate programs and a refocusing on its mandate for the recent surge.

“We believe we are being clear about our why we exist and what we hope to accomplish in our lives of our students while we are here,” he said. “We feel very blessed our numbers have come up and all around our support has been good.”

The Living Faith Bible College, 11 km west of Caroline, celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. Like Prairie Bible Institute, the college has experienced recent years of low enrolment.

Sean Gurnsey, admissions/recruitment, said news of the closure of Gardner College was not surprising because Bible college enrolment is down in general.

“In the last seven years, I have seen a decline in just about every Bible institute that I have talked to,” said Gurnsey.

“We’re pretty small and that’s actually our kind of benefit because we can still be very small and still survive.”

Last year, 18 students enrolled in the non-denominational college and this fall, between 30 and 35 students are expected to study at the institute.

Gurnsey said improved recruitment strategies coupled with the tweaking of teaching strategies helped boost the numbers.

“We’re not planning to close anytime soon,” he said. “I have a high confidence that we are going to see an increase in numbers in the next few years.”

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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