Enrolment at Red Deer College is stable.
“We’re stable if not up slightly,” said Steven Lane, RDC association vice-president academic.
Joel Ward, president and CEO of the college, said enrolment numbers increased 10 per cent in 2015 and 2016. He said there are roughly 7,500 students enrolled in the college’s more than 100 programs on the main campus and the Donald School of Business.
The highest enrolment is in the Education and Health Sciences programs.
Ward welcomed new and returning students at a media scrum Wednesday morning at the college. Ward highlighted what’s in store for students in the new school year at RDC.
Two new programs have been launched this fall — Instrumentation Engineering Technology Diploma and the Human Resources Management Graduate Certificate.
Lane said the programs reflect industry trends.
The Human Resources Management Graduate Certificate program is a new credential in Alberta designed for those who may have degrees in other industries. The one-year course allows students to gain knowledge about the human resources industry and hone their practical skills.
Lane said the one-year certificate programs have potential to grow in other sectors, and the college will look into adding similar programs.
The two-year Instrumentation Engineering Technology Diploma was developed with local industry stakeholders. Students enrolled in the program will learn from foundational courses and tailored courses to develop skill sets that local employers require.
During the school year, RDC is expecting one important answer — whether it will be upgraded to polytechnic university status. Ward is optimistic about the answer that will come from the provincial government. The college made the long-standing request first time in 1990 followed by a second request in 2005.
The decision will make an impact economically, socially and culturally on Central Alberta, Ward said.
“In our region, opportunities for students to come to post-secondary are some of the lowest in the country. We believe the reason for that is lack of opportunities in certain programming, particularly degrees,” he said.
The college has also expanded its Makerspace in the Library Information Common on main campus this year. In 2018, the college’s Alternative Energy Lab, which is under construction, is expected to be up and running.