Red Deer College is still on track to become a university in 2021, despite the change in government and the United Conservative Party’s decision to delay the provincial budget until October.
College president Joel Ward said there has been an indication the government supports the transition.
“We’ve been very encouraged by this current government, that they’re going to continue to support a university for central Alberta, and if possible, and if available, they will support us to the extent that they can,” Ward said.
He said the government is aware of RDC’s plans to launch full degrees created and delivered by Red Deer University in September 2021.
“That’s our goal. We’ve been very clear with government. We said if we manage the transition well, if we get the support that we need, we can double enrolment and double the economic impact in our region in the next 10 years.
“We have a 10-year plan to do those things, and the speed at which we accomplish those will depend on our ability to get the support we need for developing these new degrees at this new institution.”
The 2019-20 provincial budget won’t be released until a report is completed by the UCP’s blue ribbon panel on the state of Alberta’s finances.
Ward said the college has not heard anything about what it could expect in the budget.
“If the state of finances is tough, I expect a tough budget and expect a tough challenge for post secondary and health care and education when (the province) discovers what they might need to do to balance the budget, or deal with whatever fiscal problems they might find.”
But the post-secondary tuition freeze is still in effect, he said.
“Students coming to our campus in September, there will be no change to their tuition or fees. They are protected for 2019-20.
“Any decision the government makes on tuition or funding for post secondary will likely impact our 2020-21 budget.”