As the 2014/2015 school year approaches, Red Deer College is looking towards big changes regarding programming, facilities and degree-granting status change, officials say.
After the 50th anniversary of the College last year, President and CEO Joel Ward said that RDC is, “Beginning its next 50 years with some very bold and aggressive visions for the institution.
“We believe students need opportunities to complete their education here if that works for them. We know that about 2,200 of our students transfer after first or second year and we think that’s a problem. Sixty per cent of those students said that they would stay here if they could complete their education here.”
Ward said the school is addressing this issue by moving forward in the next five to 10 years to build new residences to accept more students, as well as pushing for degree-granting status that would allow more degree programs to be available at RDC.
“We’re all about trades and technology – 3,500 students – but certificates and diplomas get ready for work. We have a strong academic case, a strong regional case and a strong local case with support from school boards, our mayor and City council in favour of the degree changing status.”
Ward also spoke about shifting some focus from trades towards arts, by offering more technology-based art programs that would open the doors for students to access programs such as digital design.
A new Arts 2.0 program will work over the next five years to double the amount of art-based programs available and to double enrolment numbers for art-based education and careers.
“We’ve been fairly traditional and now want to get into more digital and electronic arts. We think that there is a great opportunity we were missing, but our Arts 2.0 program will be showing the way forward.”
Other new programs to be added in the 2014/2015 school year will include an occupational therapy program, a physical therapy program and an international business graduate certification.
Massage therapy will also be introduced alongside a new instrumentation engineering program designed to work with manufacturing and electrical engineering students.
Also, opportunities for correctional studies are planned, along with new marketing and communication courses. New services this year include a student-driven mental health awareness initiative as well.
Other services available to students include a student-operated food bank and a second hand bookstore.
Several new continuing education programs have been implemented for this year that include business and leadership courses and social media and electronic marketing courses.
Continuing education programs have seen a significant increase of 3% – almost 16,000 students in total – for this year.
“(The growth of continuing education programs) is really a reflection that people need to continue to be lifelong learners. Their situation changes, they have different aspects of aspirations,” said Vice President of Academic Brad Donaldson.
“They want to learn a new skill or trade and so by offering the continuing education programs that we do, we give people the opportunity to engage in lifelong learning and to move themselves to take advantage of opportunities that the education affords them.”
Red Deer College has seen a growth of 2% in student enrolment and registration for this school year. Donaldson said this is another reflection of, “A great faculty, great support and a really welcoming environment.”
Student Association President Bailey Daines had a message for new students, saying, “If I had any advice for students, I’d say that there are so many more supports and aspects of campus life that they should be aware of. Get involved and have the whole campus experience.”