Declining enrolment prompts Alberta Bible institutes to adapt

October 22, 2012

Bible institutes in Alberta, particularly those outside major urban centres, face declining enrolment. The rural constituency has shifted, and youth who automatically went to the schools their churches sponsored now encounter many career-oriented PSE choices. Some institutes, such as Gardner College, have shut down; others, such as Camrose Lutheran Bible Institute (CLBI), have shifted focus. Since Harold Rust took over as president in January 2001, CLBI has introduced discipleship groups, international mission trips, and outdoor components. The institute replaced semester-based programming with a modular format, under which a visiting instructor teaches a new topic every week. CLBI enrolment has hovered between 60 and 80 students in recent years, up from 16 in January 2001. In response to students' changing demands, some Alberta Bible institutes have decided to focus more intentionally on their roots in Bible study and mission training, others have placed more emphasis on credit transfers with colleges and universities, while a third group is pursuing degree-granting status. Christian Higher Education Canada (CHEC) is working to increase enrolment at member institutes by raising public awareness of Christian education options. "It's important for people to realize there is a credible third sector of higher education, and that's Christian higher education." Edmonton Journal