Red Deer College is doing its best to put last spring’s cuts behind it and forge ahead with the school year, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the school.
Enrolment is up four per cent across the board at RDC, with the Trades and Technology Department seeing a 20 per cent increase.
More than 7,500 students are enrolled in classes this year and an additional 13,000 are enrolled in Continuing Education programs.
“We’ve put the budget cuts behind us and we did everything in our power to mitigate the impact on students, the people who work here and the programs we offer,” said college president Joel Ward. “We’re all about moving forward, not backwards. We don’t talk about that anymore, we talk about what has to happen next and we have a four per cent increase in enrolment, 7,500 students on our campus and we continue to grow.”
RDC Student Association president Martin Cruz said the college tried its best to minimize the impact of the budget cuts after the Alberta government cut grants to post-secondary institutions by 7.3 per cent.
“Regardless, it is going to affect the students,” said Cruz. “It will change a little of what we have here, but nothing major.”
The student association is working on recommendations to send to Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk for student discussions in regards to changes to the Post-Secondary Learning Act.
In 1964, when the school started, there were 119 students and 11 faculty.
“I think we’ve grown substantially since then,” said Ward. “We have plans to continue to grow.”
Ward said they have lots of events planned for the 50th anniversary, putting a spin on everything they would normally do.
“As we roll out our grand opening of City Centre Stage on Sept. 20, we’ll be talking about how that connects to our 50th anniversary of film, art, music and theatre, all downtown,” said Ward.
The space the college bought downtown will showcase student art in a gallery and the motion picture arts applied degree program will also move there.
“We’ll be able to have film festivals, we’ll be able to showcase student films and work,” said Ward.
Also its 50th anniversary, RDC will host both the Alberta College Athletic Conference basketball and volleyball men’s championships in February, and Kings hockey will return with the first home game scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Penhold multiplex against Augustana.
The lineup for the performing arts season includes: Comedy of Errors, Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Three Musketeers and Ten Lost Years.
Brad Donaldson, vice-president academic, said the increase in enrolment is great for the college. Adding to that is a two-year diploma program in occupational therapist and physiotherapist assistant, which is full of students for the program’s start.
Three programs will graduate their first students later this year: the bachelor of business administration degree, electrical engineering technology diploma, and the automation and manufacturing engineering technology diploma programs.
As 2,300 of the students are enrolled in university and university transfer programs, Donaldson said it is difficult to know how many of the students will be ready to graduate this year.
Cruz suggested new students take advantage of all the student services available, some of which are free or inexpensive. Services include counselling, academic advisors, disability services, learning support, child care and bus passes.
Cruz has been pushing for an increase in the college’s web network, which can now support 40,000 devices, up from 9,000 last year.
“It’s fast and free for all students,” said Cruz.