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Red Deer Polytechnic to add 180 more seats with new funding

Olds College, Burman University also expand programs
NDP advanced education critic David Eggen, Red Deer-South NDP candidate Michelle Baer and Red Deer-North NDP candidate Jaelene Tweedle outside Red Deer Polytechnic on April 13, 2023. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Red Deer Polytechnic will receive more than $1.3 million in provincial funding over three years to welcome 180 more students in three programs starting this fall.

RDP received $681,073 to make 60 seats available in a new Medical Device Repurposing Technician Certificate program through a curriculum-sharing partnership with Lethbridge College.

Forty-eight more seats will be added to the existing Pharmacy Technician Diploma program with a $551,096 grant, and $96,031 will be used to add 72 seats to the Administrative Professional Certificate program.

“This additional funding will allow us to offer more seats in more programs in high-demand fields, which means Red Deer Polytechnic can have an even greater economic and social impact in Alberta,” said interim academic vice-president Paulette Hanna in a statement.

Elsewhere in central Alberta, Burman University will receive $1.2 million for 60 new seats to its Bachelor of Business Administration program.

Olds College’s animal health technology program will get $562,326 for 60 seats.

University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus in Camrose will get a total of $7.4 million for 30 new seats in both the U of A’s Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology and Master of Science in Occupational Therapy programs, along with 28 seats in the U of A’s Master of Science in Physical Therapy.


“Budget 2023 will invest $193 million to create nearly 8,000 new seats in high-demand programs across the entire province. This investment will ensure students can access the skills and training they need close to home to build successful careers and meet growing skilled labour demands,” said Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides at a press conference to announce the funding at the University of Calgary on Thursday.

But NDP advanced education critic David Eggen said over the years the UCP government made the biggest cuts to operational funding in Alberta’s history at polytechnics such as Red Deer, universities, trade schools and colleges. Students also saw the highest tuition increases in Canada.

“If you have more spaces and students can’t afford to go there, it doesn’t work,” said Eggen who was in Red Deer on Thursday with local NDP candidates.

“The UCP government removed the tuition cap at the same time as they cut almost a billion dollars out of schools’ budgets, including a 6.4 per cent cut to the operating budget of Red Deer Polytechnic this year alone,” said Red Deer-South NDP candidate Michelle Baer.

She said students have seen tuition increase more than 30 per cent, and a 20 per cent hike to mandatory fees.

If elected the NDP would freeze tuition at 2022-23 levels to prevent increases in this fall, and cap tuition so it cannot surpass inflation.

Nicolaides said right now tuition in Alberta is comparable to the national average. Average undergraduate tuition in Canada is $6,800, and in Alberta it’s $7,200.

Recently the UCP government passed legislation to cap tuition increases at two per cent starting in 2024-25.

“That will provide students and families with the most predictable and stable tuition pricing that I think has ever been in place in Alberta,” Nicolaides said.


Jody Pitcher, a single mother who is completing her final year at Red Deer Polytechnic, said her collaborative program with the University of Calgary was cancelled because of UCP cuts which left her wondering if she could even finish her psychology degree.

“Because the UCP removed the caps on tuition I am now paying double the amount per course than I was in 2019. Alberta is one of the most prosperous provinces in the country, and students trying to advance their education and better their careers shouldn’t be struggling this much,” Pitcher said.

Tuition and fees for 2023-24 at RDP won’t be finalized until the end of May.

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Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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