The next RDC university degree programs will be in education and business, says president Joel Ward.
These new programs will take a couple of years to plan and to meet Alberta Advanced Education’s requirements, but the goal is to have them both ready for students by the fall of 2021, Ward added.
Education and business degree programs were defined as meeting the most student and job demands through discussions between college deans and seven area school districts, he explained.
RDC academics will be creating the entire curriculum for education degrees in teaching in the early grades (k-4) and the later grades (9-12). Ward said RDC already offers a Bachelor of Education Degree specializing in the middle years (grades 5-8) in partnership with the University of Alberta.
RDC also offers a business degree in partnership with Mount Royal University. But Ward said the institution is interested in developing its own degree program in either business administration or commerce (a final decision hasn’t yet been made). With a locally-planned curriculum, he feels RDC can respond best to business and student needs in this area.
It’s important to remember 53 per cent of surveyed Central Albertans indicated they wanted to complete a degree in their post-secondary studies — and there will soon be a time when they won’t have to go someplace else, said Morris Flewwelling, chair of the RDC Board of Governors.
The goal at RDC is to eventually have a 50-50 balance between degree and diploma/certificate programs. “Right now it’s more like a 20-80” split, said Ward.
He added all RDC university degrees — including the two that have so far been approved by the province in Animation as well as Film, Theatre and Live Performance — were designed with Central Alberta students in mind — but also for attracting students from outside, and even Canada.
The college, which plans to come up with a new university name in January, has seen an enrolment increase of 3.9 per cent this fall, bringing the total student number to about 7,500.
Although apprenticeship programs continue to run with 30 per cent fewer students in this economically challenging time, Ward said RDC launched some new programs that have been well received.
A Justice Studies diploma program, a Pre-Health Studies certificate program, and an Educational Leadership program are among those that the college financed through its own efficiencies, said Ward.
Ward noted RDC has officially been a university ever since the minister made the announcement last March. Coming up with new university-level programs, while maintaining the right balance with the certificate, diploma and trades courses that Central Albertans appreciate “will be an on-going never ending process.”