An emphasis on attracting more international students to Red Deer College will help create a more multicultural community, says the executive director of Central Alberta Refugee Effort.
The college is looking to attract 500 new international students in 2020 as it works to increase its overall enrolment. Currently, there are about 200 international students.
Business and early childhood education programs have been draws, and there will be an effort to recruit foreign students for engineering technology programs.
Frank Bauer said the efforts of the college are exciting and will increase local diversity in the region.
“It will change the landscape of Red Deer and central Alberta,” Bauer said.
He said transitioning to a university will also help in the college’s international enrolment efforts.
Georgie Blackburn, a first-year-student Red Deer College student from Britain, said she hoped that RDC will be able to maintain it’s small-college character when it becomes a university. It’s the reason she chose the college.
“Because it’s a smaller student base, it’s easier to get involved and know people instead of being just a number in a school,” said Blackburn who enrolled in the early learning and child care program in September after moving to Canada in March 2018 to be a nanny in Trochu.
But she would like to see an international student office on campus where someone from Canada’s immigration department could assist students applying for permanent residency.
“We’re paying a lot more money to the college so it would be nice to have some kind of support network. Visas are a complicated situation. I had a lot of problems last semester getting it in on time. If we had someone from immigration here, it would be a lot more helpful,” Blackburn said.
Central Alberta Refugee Effort, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, assists refugees and immigrants with language training, youth and family programs and expanding community connections.
On March 21, the agency will co-sponsor the CommUnity: The Power of One event at Welikoklad Centre. The public event is an opportunity to bring people together from different backgrounds.
Bauer said discrimination and racism is a growing concern in Westerner society, including Red Deer, as politics have become less respectful. Addressing this trend, and speaking out when discrimination happens, are wonderful ways to recognize Central Alberta Refugee Effort’s 40th year.
“Try to get to know people from other parts of the world and help them feel at home in Red Deer,” Bauer said.