RDC defends cuts to French, Spanish courses

Red Deer College is defending its decision to cut both French and Spanish language courses, citing declining enrolment and budgetary pressure.

Red Deer College is defending its decision to cut both French and Spanish language courses, citing declining enrolment and budgetary pressure.

But faculty are calling the cut short-sighted, saying second languages open doors in global markets.

On Wednesday, staff were notified of the decision to cut the courses. Torben Anderson, RDC interim VP academic, said these are the only programs being cut by the college. But he noted that budgeting would be done on an ongoing basis, meaning program changes could occur during the year.

In total, two full-time positions are being cut and a few part-time positions.

“It’s a combination of circumstances,” said Anderson. “We’re under significant budget pressure and the outlook is for those pressures to increase more and quite significantly over the next few years.

“Frankly, fewer students are choosing to take French or Spanish as electives.”

Ken Heather, faculty association of Red Deer College president, called the move disheartening.

“Administration can’t have it both ways,” said Heather. “For as long as we’ve heard it’s about having programs and meetings needs of the learners of Central Alberta and then you turn around and say to students in programs that have second languages in them that they have to go to other places and take the language courses in the third and fourth year of their degrees.

“Second languages open doors in global markets.”

The Alberta budget proposed by the Progressive Conservative government before the election included a 1.4 per cent cut to the Campus Alberta operating grant in 2015-16 and a 2.7 per cent cut in 2016-17.

According to the 2013-14 RDC budget, the college received about $57 million in operating grants from the provincial government.

“The course we are eliminating are an important part of what the college has done for many years,” said Anderson. “But they are also courses we’ve seen decline in enrolment. That’s been going on for a few years.”

Anderson said the college will work with students who were enrolled in the courses for the coming semesters to find alternative classes.

“We really regret we’re no longer able to provide these courses any longer,” he said. “We had great curriculum, we had fantastic instructors. It’s not at all an issue of quality, it’s an issue of cost and the number of students choosing to take advantage of these opportunities.”

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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