Beefed up internet service benefits students in the Cariboo – TRU Newsroom

Beefed up internet service benefits students in the Cariboo – TRU Newsroom

June 13, 2024 at 3:33 pm  Education, Kamloops, News

Kylie Thomas, academic director, Williams Lake Campus and Regions, says broadband will improve access to education and success for students in the Cariboo.

The extension of high-speed internet to underserved communities in the Cariboo means students will have greater access to post-secondary education and training.

Over $37 million in funding, announced today at Thompson Rivers University’s (TRU) Williams Lake campus by federal Minister of Rural Economic Development Gudie Hutchings and BC Minister of Citizens’ Services George Chow, will bring broadband to more than 1,900 households in central BC, including 54 Indigenous homes.

“Extending broadband capacity to the communities announced today will directly support access to lifelong learning through the delivery of quality and flexible post-secondary education and training, research and scholarship across the region,” said Kylie Thomas, TRU academic director for Williams Lake campus and the regions.

The Williams Lake campus and regional centres serve a wide range of learners, including a high proportion of Indigenous and mature students, with varying education and training needs. For many, geography is a significant barrier to accessing higher education. High-speed internet removes this barrier by giving students in dispersed populations access to flexible online and place-based learning options, without the need to leave their home communities.

Thomas said students are more likely to reach their educational goals when they study in their local communities, and face lower costs for education.

“One of the most expensive costs of pursuing post-secondary education is the living costs associated with studying away from the family home. With expanded local access, this funding assists in reducing student debt for rural and remote higher education learners,” she said.

Currently, 95.2 per cent of households in British Columbia are connected to high-speed Internet. In March 2022, Canada and British Columbia announced a broadband partnership to connect all remaining rural households in British Columbia to high-speed internet through a total combined investment of up to $830 million.

“Increased access for Indigenous communities and regional and rural citizenry assists in increasing higher education participation and attainment rates, which directly correlates to improving the quality of life for citizens of the communities mentioned today,” said Thomas.

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