The Students’ Association of Grande Prairie Regional College is urging the province to approve its request to become a Polytechnic University. President Mike Moman says the move became even more crucial when Athabasca University dropped out of its partnership that allowed students to get their degree by taking classes through GPRC.
“We need to ensure that the students that are in the programs that are losing degrees will still be able to maintain the level of education and the accessibility that they want. They want to be taught by an instructor at GPRC; they love the instructors here, they love the tuition here, and they love the structure here.”
Students in two business degrees and psychology have been given one year to finish as much of their education as possible. That could mean taking up to six core courses in a semester. Anything not finished will then have to be taken through distance education.
Outside of the Athabasca University problem, Moman argues having GPRC become both a trades college and a university will benefit the community as a whole. A recent poll found that 70 per cent of students would stay in the city if they could get their degree here.
“60 per cent of students in an advocacy survey last year said if they’re leaving Grande Prairie to finish their degree, they’re not coming back. Our educated youth are not returning; that is not going to be advancing Grande Prairie; that is not going to be building our community.”
Along with Mayor Bill Given, SAGPRC representatives met with the Advanced Education Minister last week in Edmonton. Moman says they were also supported by nearly 1,500 postcards from students.
“The minister asked how we’d feel if there were more collaborations with other institutions, which could help some of the students maybe now who want to get those degrees; it could help them but that’s not going to be an actual solution. We’re still going to be reliant on what other institutions are making available.”
Minister Marlin Schmidt said the department would review the issue, and the school plans to start applying more pressure in the late fall to early winter. Moman says the next step is having the community show its support for the change, which can be done by contacting the Students’ Association.