Red Deer post-secondary students push for degrees without leaving town
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Post-secondary students in Red Deer, Alta. Continue to push for degrees following the Alberta government’s decision to turn the town’s college into a polytechnic institution and not, as previously planned, in a university.
“We’ve been fighting for degrees for a very, very long time, and then we were told we were going to get college status and we were hoping we would graduate with that,” said Savannah Snow, a third year student in commerce at Red Deer College (DRC) and president of the student association.
In March, Snow joined a student protest calling on the Government of Alberta to approve the five degrees – biological sciences, business administration, education, and two separate degrees in psychology – that had been submitted by the institution for approval.
At that time, the province had already hinted that the planned transition to a university may not have been planned. This week, it was confirmed that RDC will become a polytechnic institution offering apprenticeship training as well as degree, diploma and certificate programs.
Polytechnic status suits the RDC well, Snow said, but that doesn’t change the need to have new degrees approved. This would mean that students could complete their studies without having to leave the city of central Alberta.
She considers herself lucky. Her program is a collaborative degree conducted in collaboration with Mount Royal University in Calgary, where she will apply to graduate when her four years at RDC are completed.
In the study
The biological sciences degree was approved in March, but the other four proposals are under review “to ensure they meet or exceed Alberta’s high-quality standards,” a spokesperson said. by Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Higher Education.
There is no timeline for the independent review, but Snow hopes it will be quick.
“We’re all wondering what’s going to happen with our degrees, what’s going to happen with the collaborative programs that have been enrolled now, and what’s going to happen to us in the future,” she said.
Keeping students in central Alberta for undergraduate study has been a community goal for years, said Morris Flewwelling, former chairman of the board of governors at Red Deer College and former mayor of the city.
“This was the driving force behind the latest wave of college status applications,” he said.
He said the polytechnic model suited the school well, reflecting its deep investment in teaching the trades. The school did not intend to pursue any research or postgraduate programs.
“It may seem like there has been a demotion or dilution of the idea of college. And I don’t think that’s the case at all,” he said.
“It’s going in the same direction as we thought. It’s going to become known by a slightly different name, but that’s about the only change.”
Flewwelling urged students to be patient during the process of deciding on degrees.
The good news, he added, is that the institution is well advanced in the rigorous and complicated process. It received authorization to award diplomas in 2018.
“We have programs that are practically ready to go,” he said. “They have been submitted and are in development and they will arrive as quickly as possible.”