Making provincial government grants conditional on things such as enrolment should not be a problem for Red Deer College, says its president, Peter Nunoda.
Earlier this week, Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said that starting in April, up to 15 per cent of operational funding provided to post-secondary schools will be linked to enrolment, graduation rates and filling job market needs.
That number is to grow to 40 per cent of funding by 2022.
At the same time, the province has lifted the tuition freeze to allow a maximum average increase of seven per cent.
Nunoda said tuition has yet to be determined for September, but the college is currently at the low end of the scale, and it would remain so if institutions raise tuition by the same percentage.
“The overall participation rate in post secondary in Alberta is not as high as I think we, and the government, would like it to be. I think that’s a perfectly reasonable metric,” Nunoda said.
Tuition rates at the college are currently between $3,200 and $7,900 per year, depending on the program and courses. A seven per cent increase would see a student pay $225 to $555 more, or an average of about $390.
He said Red Deer is also an economical choice for central Alberta students when it comes to accommodations, both on and off campus.
The college intends to focus on bringing in 500 new international students in 2020. Currently, there are 200 international students.
“We did nothing to recruit those 200. They essentially arrived on our doorstep unsolicited. What that suggests is that when we do actually start recruiting, we should be fairly successful.”
Business and early childhood education programs have been draws, and there will be an effort to recruit foreign students for engineering technology programs, he said.
New three-year funding agreements between government and post-secondary schools will spell out the performance targets and the money to be received if they are met.
Government funding was reduced by five per cent for the current fiscal year, and there will be five per cent reductions each fiscal year for the next three years.
Nunoda said he looks forward to working with government.
“It’s a challenging time, but it’s an exciting time, because I think we have an opportunity to truly transform the system.”