NDP’s advanced education critic David Eggen is doubtful that polytechnic status for Red Deer College will be followed by the necessary funding from the province to expand programming.
On Tuesday, the province announced that RDC will become a polytechnic institution which will allow the college to offer degrees while retaining trades programming.
“I think it’s important to have degree status granting, but you need to put something behind that. We’ve seen the UCP cutting budgets all across the province, laying off staff, closing programs,” Eggen said.
“They talk about building things and having a vision for the future. But judge them on their actions. They’ve just taken almost $700 million out of the system.”
The province said polytechnic status will better allow RDC to align programming with local student, business and industry needs – including high-quality degrees, apprenticeship education and diploma programs.
Only a year ago, RDC was intent on becoming a university to offer its own degrees. In 2018, Alberta’s NDP government gave RDC approval to become a university.
But university status was put on hold when the UCP government set about reviewing Alberta’s post-secondary system, and last week released its 10-year strategy — Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs.
In March, RDC was approved to offer a new Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences degree, its first bachelor degree outside of applied programming.
“It was like pulling teeth to get that degree,” Eggen said.
Students, the faculty, and the community have fought hard for degrees. More degrees are waiting for approval, but how long will that take, he asked.
“We want what’s best for students. We know that post secondary is an important economic engine. At the same time the UCP has made historic cuts over three budgets to Red Deer College and to post secondaries right across the province.”