International students help Coast Mountain College develop much-needed business program

For Indian student Smit Joshi, the town of Smithers, BC was an easy choice for an international education. “I came to Smithers because I share my name with the city!” exclaims Smit. He’s one of 30 international students enrolled in a two-year business administration diploma program at Coast Mountain College’s Smithers campus. Like many of his classmates, Smit has travelled a long distance from his hometown of Himatnagar in India to the small northern community of just 5,401 residents.

“Smithers has been a fantastic city to continue my education,” says Smit. “Everyone here is so warm and welcoming.” With a Master’s degree in Pharmacy under his belt, Smit is hoping a diploma from Coast Mountain’s business administration program will prepare him for a future career in Canada.

“Three years ago, there was no international presence at our college,” says Justin Kohlman, Vice President, Academic Affairs & Provost at Coast Mountain College. After connecting with BCCIE and establishing an international strategy, the college created a business administration program to help grow their international student body.

Not only are international students taking part in the program, but domestic students as well. “We’ve seen so many benefits of this program for our students,” states Justin.

Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach echoes this sentiment. “When Coast Mountain College introduced us to the idea of creating a business program at their Smithers campus, we saw an opportunity to develop new student housing in our community,” says Mayor Bachrach. “But one of the benefits we didn’t foresee is that these students are helping to fill a labour shortage, particularly in the retail and hospitality industries. Stores and restaurants can stay open longer, which means a real boost in our local economy.”

The group of international students is also helping to diversify Smithers’ population. “As a remote northern town, there isn’t as much exposure to cultures as there is in a larger centre,” says Mayor Bachrach. “I had a chance to meet the cohort when they arrived, and it was exciting to feel the energy they brought, and their enthusiasm for the program and the community.”