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City of Lethbridge working to keep post-secondary graduates local

Each year, 15,000 students study at either the University of Lethbridge or Lethbridge College. Now, the City of Lethbridge is working to figure out how it can get more of those students to stay after graduation. Each year, 15,000 students study at either the University of Lethbridge or Lethbridge College. Now, the City of Lethbridge is working to figure out how it can get more of those students to stay after graduation.
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LETHBRIDGE -

Each year, 15,000 students study at either the University of Lethbridge or Lethbridge College.

Now, the City of Lethbridge is working to figure out how it can get more of those students to stay after graduation.

The city will soon meet with representatives from both institutions.

"I think it's always been important. We understand the economic and social and cultural impact the two large post-secondary institutes at Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge have on this community," said Perry Stein, partner services manager for the City of Lethbridge.

About 70 per cent of students at the U of L and 61 per cent of students at Lethbridge College are originally from outside Lethbridge.

But two years after they graduate, only about 38 per cent of U of L alumni are still in Lethbridge

The college is slightly higher, with 50 per cent of graduates staying in southern Alberta.

"It's definitely a goal to keep our great grads in our community because it's a benefit to our industry partners and our community as a whole and just to the industries that operate here in Lethbridge. Our programming is really tailored to what the industry is looking for," said Stephanie Savage, alumni and engagement manager for Lethbridge College.

A recent report done in conjunction with Economic Development Lethbridge, South Grow Regional Economic Development and other partners helped to shed light on why many choose to leave.

Some of the biggest factors from the 2,200 students interviewed were employment opportunities, public safety and transportation accessibility.

"Access to public transit and perceptions around public safety were identified as top concerns. Those are two buckets where the city clearly has a lot of control and influence. Really important to see them engage to take on finding solutions and be a part of it," said Trevor Lewington, Economic Development Lethbridge CEO.

While students studying in Lethbridge have an economic impact, having more stay in the city after graduation can be a long-term gain.

"We need their talent, we need their expertise, we need their cultural and social contributions to continue," Stein said.

Representatives from the U of L, Lethbridge College and Red Crow College will meet with the city during an upcoming governance standing policy committee meeting. 

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