Enrolment is expected to be down this fall, but Red Deer College president Peter Nunoda remains upbeat about the coming year.
“Were pretty optimistic about enrolment. It is a little bit lower than it has been in previous years, and I can understand that, particularly for first-year students,” said Nunoda.
Enrolment has varied week to week and he expects to have a better handle on the final numbers by the end of August.
Earlier this year, the college projected a 10 per cent enrolment drop in the coming school year. The college will also have to make do with $5.3 million less in provincial funding.
“Part of the beauty of first year is that experience, the face to face, becoming part of that college culture.
“Some (students) are choosing to take a year off because we’re mostly online.”
Despite the pandemic-related health precautions, the library will be reopened and small face-to-face gatherings will be held for science, health science labs and for trades and apprenticeship programs.
Nunoda acknowledged it will be a year like no other for students, faculty and staff members.
“But our primary concern is to make the learning experience as rich as we can, whether the students are here in small face-to-face groups or they are online.”
COVID is expected to have the biggest impact on the college’s international education initiatives, because international travel has been sharply curtailed.
“Some of those things that we’d hoped to do won’t come to fruition here in September,” he said. “Having said that, we’re optimistic about January 2021.”