Red Deer College should be worried that its university dreams could be dashed, says the NDP’s advanced education critic David Eggen.
RDC is waiting for the results of the province’s system review of post-secondary institutions to find out whether the college can one day be called Red Deer University.
Eggen said results of the review have been delayed several times and he’s suspicious that the UCP government has already decided to strip away the power of RDC to make decisions and plan for the future and give it to a regional board.
“Regional control is a big step backwards. Everyone should be concerned about that,” Eggen said, adding Red Deerians already have concerns about their hospital which is under the regional and provincial authority of Alberta Health Services.
In a statement, Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides, said the government is looking at all options carefully.
“It is important to note that Red Deer College can offer degrees without becoming a university.
Nicolaides said in fact Red Deer College currently has two applications under review for a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Science.
“A full university transition might mean that some programs, like trades, which universities don’t offer, could be closed. This would be a significant problem for learners and for workforce development in the region. The most important priority is to ensure learners have the program choices that they need available in their backyard.”
Hundreds of community members, faculty, officials and students packed RDC Arts Centre’s Mainstage in March 2018 to hear the long-awaited news that the province had approved it becoming a university.
A year later, the name Red Deer University was unveiled.
“We are Alberta’s, we are Canada’s next university city. Congratulations,” said Mayor Tara Veer to applause at the ceremony announcing the new name.
RDC president Peter Nunoda said in a statement Monday that the college is waiting for the results of the Alberta 2030 post-secondary system review and will share updates when more details are available on its efforts to obtain university status.
“RDC anticipated a transition time of three to five years and with the post-secondary system review we are still within that timeframe,” said Nunoda.
“RDC looks forward to collaborating with the Ministry of Advanced Education and all post-secondary partners to implement the final recommendations from the Alberta 2030 post-secondary system review. We do not anticipate any barriers for our ability to offer degrees and the breadth of other credentials we currently offer to best serve our students and communities in the future,” Nunoda said.
Eggen said university status is absolutely essential for Red Deer.
“Having university status helps build the school and build community. It also allows people in Red Deer to make decision about their own post-secondary choices and future. To take that away is going backwards and it’s a sign of disrespect not just to the college, but the city as well.”
He said university status attracts investment for the city, economic diversification, as well as retaining young people in the region.
“You’ll reap exponential returns having a university in the city of Red Deer. It’s an investment,” Eggen said.
“Elected representatives should be advocating for this. I certainly am.”