Local educators believe giving Red Deer College degree-granting capabilities will keep more of the city’s best and brightest young minds close to home.
Stu Henry, Red Deer Public School District superintendent, said the move was a long time coming.
“Many of our outstanding students have gone down the highway to pursue degrees in other communities,” he said. “Many of these great young people have not returned, and it has been a loss for our community.”
Red Deer College’s board chair Morris Flewwelling echoed Henry’s belief, adding the most recent attempt by the college to become a university made a strong case about keeping students in their hometown for university.
“We lose some of our brightest and best,” said Flewwelling. “It’s been said that the University of Calgary or the University of Alberta are only 90 miles away, but 90 miles can mean a lot to young people looking for education.”
On Thursday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced the government had approved a request for the college to become a degree-granting institution.
This was the third time in 25 years the college had made the request to the government.
“If we don’t have degrees on our store shelves, we’re not serving our learners in Central Alberta,” said Flewwelling, adding the degrees offered at RDC are brokered with other institutions, and the college doesn’t have control over the content and method of delivery.
“We will continue with our brokered degrees, bring in our independent degrees and phase out the brokered ones over time.”
While the request has been approved, there is still a long process ahead as the college transitions into its university status. Degree programs have to be developed and it could still take years for the institution to become a university.
“We see more potential in the future for partnerships at a university level with Red Deer College (University) that will benefit our students. Also, we are excited that Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools graduate students will be able to remain and study at a university in their local community,” said Paul Mason, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools superintendent.