Red Deer College to become polytechnic instead of university

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The largest post-secondary institution in Red Deer will become a polytechnic school instead of a university after a provincial government review.

Last spring the college put in an application to receive provincial government approval to change its status to a university. Instead, the province said it would grant the post-secondary education polytechnic status.

The government says polytechnic status enables Red Deer College to better align academic offerings with local student, business, and industry needs.

Becoming a polytechnic allows an institution to offer apprenticeships, degrees, diplomas, and certificate programs.

Red Deer College has asked the province to still be able to offer four degree programs including bachelors of business administration, education, arts and science in psychology. The ministry of advanced education continues to review the requests.

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In a press release, Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides said Red Deer College becoming a polytechnic is the best-fit model for central Alberta.

“I am thrilled that Red Deer College will become central Alberta’s polytechnic institution, best positioning it to provide residents with the wide range of educational options they need to build rewarding careers – right in their community,” Nicolaides said.

“Ensuring all Albertans have access to opportunities to build their skills for in-demand local jobs empowers people to achieve success close to home, helps strengthen and grow communities, as well as attracting investment to the province.”

Tara Veer, Red Deer mayor, said in a statement that the city has been waiting 25 years for an answer regarding the future of the college.

The mayor added that while some in the community were concerned in the change of direction for the college, Veer ultimately supports the pivot.

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“I support a path forward that will protect RDC’s ability to stay true to its roots in trades, technology and the arts, with the ability to confer degrees for other academic pursuits and fields of study,” she said. “Red Deer College assures city council that the polytechnic accomplishes these objectives.”

Savannah Snow, president of the Students’ Association of Red Deer College, said in a statement that students support the polytechnic status.

“Students of central Alberta want to learn and live close to their support systems,” Snow said. “We need to stop the brain drain and focus on what really matters most – making sure our population is well-educated and remains in this region.”

The province says a new official name for Red Deer College to reflect its polytechnic status will be announced in the coming months.