Steinbach Bible College and Providence University College are both seeing more students than they expected this year.

With COVID-19 still very present in Manitoba, the expectation this year was that attendance would be down at post-secondary institutions. In the southeast, however, that is simply not the story. Two Christian colleges are saying their enrollment numbers have, quite surprisingly, been unaffected by the global pandemic.

“We’re looking at 442 students in total which is pretty much equivalent to last fall,” Providence University College's External Relations Vice President Samantha Groenendij says. “We are very thankful for that and we praise the Lord for his provision.”

In a school usually renowned for its high population of international students, Groenendijk was sad to inform that the virus had gouged those numbers. “But that is made up with an increase in domestic students,” she says.“ We are happy to report pretty steady enrollment.”

At Steinbach Bible College, meanwhile, 115 students are presently enrolled; a number that is even higher than the fall of 2019. While the number of new students attending classes is right on target, President Rob Reimer says the number of returning students is up considerably.

“I would say we have around 45-50 new students and 60-65 returning students,” he says. “When you have a big returning class like we do this year, it speaks volumes about the kinds of programs that we offer.”

All three schools have taken a different approach when it comes to educating during the pandemic.

Making all necessary accommodations for the provincial government’s health regulations, Reimer says SBC students will be attending classes almost entirely in person. The rare opportunity is afforded to the school because of their small class sizes, which typically do not surpass 20 people.

At Providence, a hybrid model is being taken.

“Students are given the choice of if they want to participate solely online or also on campus in the classroom,” Groenendijk says. “All of our classes have been situated in such a way that they would be able to change if needed.”

Like SBC, Groenendijk believes the school’s small class sizes, as well as its secluded location, will be advantageous in the coming months.

Despite challenging protocols necessitated by the virus, all three institutions say they are dedicated to providing the high-quality and learning and engagement their students have come to expect of them.