KPU to add 115 new seats to nursing programs

New government investments aim to expand nursing school capacity across B.C.

Art by Kristen Frier

Art by Kristen Frier

The provincial government has announced that additional seats are coming for nursing programs in post-secondary institutions across British Columbia, promising to create 602 seats in more than 15 institutions.

On Feb. 20, the government announced the additional seats as part of efforts to support the growth of “talent development and skills training” and support the StrongerBC’s Economic Plan

The plan is a goal set out by the B.C. government to add “one million jobs over the next ten years” and focus on building a low-carbon economy.

The 602 seats will be allocated to four different specialties. There will be 20 seats for nurse practitioners, 180 for licensed practical nurses, 362 for registered nurses, and 40 for registered psychiatric nurses.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University is one of the post-secondary institutions in B.C with a competitive nursing program. Currently, KPU offers 249 seats for students through four nursing programs each year.

The investment into fixing the nursing shortage in the province will give KPU an additional 115 seats to teach and train students for the field. The psychiatric nursing and Bachelor of Science in nursing programs will receive the extra seats. The first intakes will be in 2023 during the months of January and September.

These additional spaces will also create a path for those who are already in the nursing field and want to gain more education. For example, licensed practical nurses who want to further their studies and transition into registered nurses.

The lack of seats in nursing programs across the province has affected the ability of post-secondary institutions to accept students who apply. Many are put on long waiting lists and asked to complete lengthy prerequisites. 

In an emailed statement to The Runner, Sharmen Lee, KPU’s Dean of the Faculty of Health, said the university is thankful for the provision of extra nursing seats. 

Not only is this wonderful news of more opportunities for students who want a career in nursing, but it will also ultimately provide much-needed nurses for our communities as well,” she wrote.

“We will be working closely with the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives to ensure we continue to meet their education program review requirements, and have also set up working groups to handle the internal logistics. We are confident that we will be able to provide these additional seats while maintaining the same high quality learning experience on campus for our nursing students,” Lee added. 

The government has reported these additions to be one of the ways to handle B.C.’s nursing shortage. A report by the BC Nurses Union shows that the nursing shortage has been an issue before the pandemic, and the pandemic has only increased the problem. 

A survey created by the BC Nurses Union showed that 68 per cent of nurses felt the staffing at their workplace was “extremely to somewhat inadequate,” and 76 per cent felt like the amount of work they have has increased since the pandemic started. 

The government is working to deal with this shortage by providing post-secondary institutions with $5 million to implement the new seats and $8.7 million for health education training programs. 

This is part of the province’s three-year, $96 million investment in “expanded post-secondary education and training capacity for the health profession workforce.” 


Correction: an earlier version of this article stated that KPU’s nursing programs offer seats for 72 students twice a year. That number has been corrected to 249 seats across four programs annually.