As long as students can earn degrees at Red Deer College, it doesn’t matter whether the institution becomes a university or a polytechnic, says the president of the RDC Students’ Association.
“What matters to the students and what I believe matters most to the community, is degrees. That is the most important issue. A rose by any other name smells as sweet,” Brittany Lausen said Thursday.
On Wednesday, Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan said RDC is working with Alberta Advanced Education for approval to grant degrees in the short term.
Stephan said RDC is not like the University of Alberta, Calgary or Lethbridge, as those institutions don’t provide trades and technology education. RDC is similar to polytechnic institutions NAIT and SAIT, he added.
Lausen said she didn’t disagree with that assessment from the students’ perspective.
“SAIT and NAIT are both great institutions and they have a lot more applied (learning), which is what RDC has always wanted to be. We have some applied degrees and we want our students to have experience in the workforce,” she said.
Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides recently said the college could offer degrees without becoming a university. He also suggested graduating to university status might mean closing some of the college’s trades programs.
RDC needs its trades programs, said Lausen.
“It seems odd to me that we couldn’t have trades as a university when government makes the rules,” she said.
“But what’s important to the students at Red Deer College is that we’re able to get trades education and we’re able to finish our degrees here so we don’t have to move to Calgary or Edmonton … to finish a degree we started here.”
It’s important RDC doesn’t lose the certificates and diplomas offered at the institution, Lausen added.
Lausen said she recently saw a clipping published in a student-run newspaper from 1992, that featured a cartoon of a gravestone with “RDC degree-granting status” written on it.
“I don’t want the community to have to wait another 29 years to grant degrees. We need them now,” said Lausen.
“We need students to be able to stay close to home. The cities are expensive to live in. Red Deer and central Alberta are affordable and we need the talent to stay here.”
RDC does offer a few collaborative degrees with partnering institutions, but those are disadvantaging for RDC students, said Lausen.
“It leaves students very vulnerable to the collaborative institutions. We saw that with U of C pulling the plug on our psychology degree, as well as our social work degree.
“We need to have the power to offer our own degrees to ensure our students are able to maintain residency in central Alberta and finish the degree of their choosing here at RDC.”
RDC president Peter Nunoda has planned an online news conference with local media on Friday at 1 p.m.