Fast-growing Red Deer College has much to offer Alberta government’s economic diversification ambitions, says president Joel Ward.
The institution’s potential to provide the educated workforce a revitalized province requires will only be improved if the college’s polytechnic university goal is realized.
“Strong post-secondary institutions contribute to strong economic growth and innovation,” said Ward. “New knowledge, new products, new technologies all can be developed through post-secondary.”
“I think they (the provincial government) get it. They’re just not sure how to make it work yet.”
Red Deer College points to its enrolment numbers to support the notion it’s time has come.
Enrolment is up 10 per cent this year and 20 per cent over the last two years. Many of those students have been attracted to university and university transfer programs, a clear show of support for the college’s effort to attain degree-granting status.
Ward points to B.C.’s University of the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island University, both polytechnic universities playing an important role.
“We should be able to do the same thing here,” he said.
“Our ability to offer degrees to our students is critical to our cultural, economic and social growth in our region.
“Without it, I think we are impoverished in Central Alberta because a lot of our students leave to complete their degrees. We think that’s a major social justice issue,” said Ward in a news conference to kick off the new school year.
The college is now lobbying the fifth education minister to have their file and are on their fourth government. Ward says the NDP government has been supportive and it’s hoped an answer is coming soon.
“I think they get it. They’re just not sure how to make it work yet.”
Paulette Hanna, vice-president academic, said the college offers 100 programs to its 8,000 students, 3,100 in trades programs.
Media studies and profressional communications programs are full and the business administration diploma had the biggest enrolment increase at 28 per cent.