Red Deer College forced to make difficult decisions

Re: the provincial budget announcement: I could comment on cuts to post-secondary budgets over the last six years, but I won’t. I could comment on why an investment in post-secondary education is important in a time when those who have lost their jobs and wish to retrain or reskill may not have the opportunity to do so, but I won’t.

Re: the provincial budget announcement:

I could comment on cuts to post-secondary budgets over the last six years, but I won’t. I could comment on why an investment in post-secondary education is important in a time when those who have lost their jobs and wish to retrain or reskill may not have the opportunity to do so, but I won’t.

I have a bias — I am the president of Red Deer College and it would seem self-serving to make the case for support when so many other sectors have been affected by cuts as well. We all have to do our part, and we at RDC understand and accept that.

What needs comment is the impact of budget reductions on our ability to achieve our mandate. Quite simply, we will serve fewer students, deliver fewer programs, and provide fewer services to our learners. As we make our decisions on what programs and services will be affected, we use a well-developed model of program and service review, consider the impact on learners, faculty and staff, the economic impact on the region we serve, and we consider the community and political implications.

Not everyone will agree with our decisions, and while we respect and encourage their passion to fight for what they believe, the reality is clear — we can’t afford to do everything we are doing and in the same way. Change is inevitable.

In spite of difficult financial times, the RDC board of governors, in collaboration with our communities, has articulated a powerful, future-focused plan to position our college to transition to polytechnic university status. This comprehensive university model builds on our offerings of trades and apprenticeship programs, one-year certificates, two-year diplomas, university transfer, adult upgrading, continuing education and, critically, the ability for us to offer our own degrees.

The cost to people having to leave our region for degrees is not restricted to the loss of talent that doesn’t return. There is also the heavy cost of having to move to a larger city. This burden falls on families or takes the form of debilitating student debt. This prospect deters many from even pursuing degree-level education in the first place.

The impact of the budget reductions won’t deter us from our path. We will get through this, we always do.

More than 30,000 Albertans are predicted to lose their jobs this year. Job loss will occur across all sectors of the economy. To those who lose their jobs, and to their families who will be impacted, no words will suffice to ease their worries. It would be disingenuous to try.

At RDC, we will do our very best to mitigate the impact of the reductions to our budget on learners and our faculty and staff and on families.

Joel Ward

President and CEO

Red Deer College

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