Red Deer College president, Joel Ward, says it will at least be three years until Red Deer College has “university” in its title. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

WATCH: Red Deer College needs three years to have “university” in its title

Now that Red Deer College has the green light to become a degree-granting institution, the real work can begin.

Joel Ward, Red Deer College president, said it will be at least three years until the college has “university” in its title.

Until then, it’s business as usual at Red Deer College for students and staff.

Ward said new programs will be added slowly in the next three to five years.

“In 10 (years), we’ll be a fully functioning recognized university,” Ward said.

The college will meet with government officials on March 20 to understand the “boxes that need to be ticked” to change the name, which, Ward said, is the next major goal.

“Whether that’s acceptance of our degrees by Alberta Quality Council, whether it’s understanding what the new governance model would be and what degrees are we thinking moving forward,” he said.

The college will have to complete an institutional self study for each of the schools to deliver quality programs. It will also have to look at becoming part of Universities Canada, just like most major universities in Canada.

Some of that work has already been underway including quality council submission for new degrees.

“If quality council says ‘Red Deer College you’re ready to grant degrees,’ that’s a huge milestone to have achieved, and we should know that this year,” he said.

RDC will follow the foot steps of Mount Royal University and MacEwan University.

“The college will focus on teaching and learning, and not on the kind of research perhaps, that takes place at University of Alberta or University of Calgary.”

While the process will continue to get all the boxes ticked, RDC will engage with the community, to see what people would like the name to be.

The engagement process will start within the next year, said Ward.

Meanwhile, tuition will remain the same at the college for current programs.

Ward said tuition at the “new institution” will also be similar to what it is now for current programs.

The tuition of new programs, however, will depend on delivery costs of those programs. For university level programs – expect the cost to be similar to costs at Mount Royal and MacEwan.

The college athletes will continue to play in the same league they do now – Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) – even after it becomes a university.

Ward said “it will probably be about a decade before we consider moving into high cost, high profile university sports market.” That’s because transitions take time and come with a hefty price tag.

Ward said the support from the community on the pending change has been “overwhelming.”

He said “university” status will attract new businesses and people to Central Alberta.

“It elevates the status of this institution in the minds of some and opens doors for a lot of folks for those who want to raise a family in Red Deer or start a business here,” he said.

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