Red Deer College is on the road to polytechnic status.
On Tuesday, Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides announced that RDC will become a polytechnic institution, but he said there’s still a little bit of work to do to complete the transformation process.
“Primarily there needs to be a change of mandate for the institution to reflect its updated status and new priorities. I anticipate we’ll be in a position as late as this fall to have all of those pieces in place and formalized,” Nicolaides told reporters after an online press conference.
The province and college said that as a polytechnic, RDC will be better able to align programming with local student, business and industry needs – including high-quality degrees, apprenticeship education and diploma programs.
Only a year ago, RDC was intent on becoming a university to offer its own degrees. In 2018, Alberta’s NDP government gave RDC approval to become a university.
But university status was put on hold when the UCP government set about reviewing Alberta’s post-secondary system, and last week released its 10-year strategy — Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs.
“The City of Red Deer and surrounding region must continue to have access to high-quality trades, vocational and other applied programming. A university model would place such programs in jeopardy and further more weaken the regional economy. We cannot allow this to happen, and we have to ensure all students have access to the programming options they need right here at home,” Nicolaides said.
Mayor Tara Veer said while there has been much discussion on the best post-secondary model for RDC, it was critically important to finally move forward.
“Today marks the beginning of the new era. We’ve waited 25 years for this day in which we would know the future of RDC and the path forward,” Veer said.
RDC president Peter Nunoda said being a polytechnic gives RDC much more flexibility.
“For the foreseeable future, our path is clear, and we’ll continue to innovate and serve students and our communities to the maximum of our abilities,” Nunoda said.
In March, RDC was approved to offer a new Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences degree, its first bachelor degree outside of applied programming. Proposals were also submitted to Advanced Education to offer a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), Bachelor of Science (Psychology), Bachelor of Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Education.
Nunoda said RDC currently has a strong collaborative degree in nursing with the University of Alberta, and work will continue on its partnerships as long as they are mutually beneficial.
“At the same time, we’ll look at our labour market demands locally and see whether or not independent degrees make sense.”
For now, Red Deer College will continue under the same name. Approvals are underway to confirm its polytechnic name. An announcement on the name will be made in the coming months.