Alberta’s government is creating 880 new seats at central Alberta post-secondary institutions, including 700 at Red Deer Polytechnic over the next three years.
The investment focuses on creating more seats for students in high-demand programs, to help support the labour market and provide more opportunities for students to pursue well-paying jobs in growing industries.
RDP will receive $4.5 million to expand its programming.
Burman University will get $600,000 for 88 more seats, and Olds College will receive $434,776 to grow by 88 seats.
“This new investment will ensure that Alberta’s workforce in the central region remains highly skilled and has the expertise needed for the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow,” said Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides who made the announcement Tuesday morning at RDP.
The province says the majority of programs slated for new spaces are ready to start accepting more students this fall.
Nicolaides said across the province, almost 10,000 new post-secondary spaces for students will be created over the next three years thanks to $171 million in new funding.
“This is without question the largest targeted enrolment expansion in Alberta history.”
New spaces at RDP will incrementally be added to the following programs:
• 40 in computer programming diploma program.
• 150 in health care aide certificate program.
• 168 in Bachelor of Science in nursing (collaborative degree with University of Alberta)
• 144 in practical nurse diploma program.
• 48 in licensed practical nurse to Bachelor of Science in nursing transition program.
• 64 in medical lab assistant certificate program.
• 75 in machine learning analyst diploma program.
• 22 in Bachelor of Applied Arts in animation and visual effects.
RDP interim president Jim Brinkhurst said the expansion of health care programs positions RDP to help meet the demand for health care workers today and the anticipated increased need with the $1.8 billion hospital expansion plan for Red Deer.
Burman University will expand its Bachelor of Business Administration, and Olds College will increase spaces in its veterinary technical assistant’s certificate program.
“In these uncertain times, I’m so grateful that we live in a province where our young adults can graduate into a strong economy. But we should always strive to be better, and Alberta should always strive to work to be the best that we can be,” said Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan.
Tuition at RDP will increase seven per cent in the fall, which is the maximum increase allowed each year under provincial rules set when the Alberta government lifted a tuition freeze in 2019.
David Eggen, NDP critic for advanced education, said the UCP made devastating cuts of $690 million in funding for institutions resulting in Alberta having the highest tuition increases in the country, and added insult to injury by increasing the interest on student debt and withholding Student Aid.
“As a result of UCP decisions, record rates of young people and post-secondary students are leaving the province,” Eggen said in a statement.
“This government’s policies are leaving Albertans behind. If not for damaging choices made by the UCP, these students could have been in career training now, with options available to them sooner. People could have already been graduating from programs, building their lives and communities today, allowing central Alberta to thrive.”