Grande Prairie Regional College is officially going to be able to offer degrees locally. The province says by allowing the college to start granting degrees more students will take the opportunity to finish their education and remain in the area.
Education Minister Marlin Schmidt says this will end the need for businesses to “import talent”
“I think that will serve the community better. Grande Prairie’s got that critical mass now where it can start to raise it’s own and train it’s own university graduates.”
The college will have the ability to develop the degree programs that they want to offer. The province is overseeing the process and will work with the school through their “quality assurance” process. Schmidt says that will allow them to meet the needs locally.
“Grande Prairie Regional College will work with the community and businesses in the community to determine what the future needs of the workforce are going to be and then train people for those workforce needs.”
College President Don Gnatiuk says they are looking to start with the degrees that they see the most demand for.
“We’re looking at degrees such as education degrees, we’re looking at arts degrees, we’re looking at science degrees. We will as an institution, in consultation with our community, decide what makes the most sense right away.”
Gnatiuk says he is “ecstatic” at the news and calls it the biggest say for the school since it was founded. He also says that he plans to maintain partnerships with other schools so that they can continue to act like a “portal”. Gnatiuk says this is an amazing opportunity for the college because they are in the drivers seat.
“The community constantly asks, ‘can you add this in to the program’ or ‘we need more of that in the program’, ‘can you adapt to meet this need?’. Well now, we can do that. So I hope that we are going to be innovative and creative in the way that we go forward.”
Chamber Chair Chris Seppola-Podsada was also on hand for the announcement and says it is something they have been pushing for for a long time.
“The college is already very diversified in their programming. This will simply allow us to be able to offer that next level of education to people. And have that opportunity presented to more people who couldn’t go away to college for example.”
There is no timeline for the first degree program will be offered. President Don Gnatiuk says the work will begin on Monday. They need to ensure they have the capacity, programs and services in place to do it right.