The President and CEO of Grande Prairie Regional College is still determined to turn the facility into a degree-granting institute. This, after Minister of Advanced Education Dimitrios Nicolaides told CBC News that whether GPRC and Red Deer College should transition is being questioned.

“This includes finding new opportunities to help Grande Prairie Regional College meet the needs of its students and community now, and well into the future,” he explained to MyGrandePrairieNow.com following the news.

His comments come as a provincial review of post-secondary institutions in Alberta is being done by external consultants. GPRC’s Dr. Robert Murray says one of the college’s key plans for the next 10 years is becoming a university.

“GPRC remains committed to meeting the educational needs of northern Alberta as we work collaboratively with the Ministry of Advanced Education, our fellow post-secondary institutions, and our stakeholders.”

On a trip to Grande Prairie in October 2019, Nicolaides called allowing local students to finish their degree closer to home a top priority. He now notes that Grande Prairie Regional College could potentially offer degrees without becoming a university.

“If GPRC were to fully transition to a university, some programs could be closed, specifically trades and apprenticeship programs, which are not offered at universities,” he adds.

He calls the prospect of closures a “significant barrier” for students looking to specialize in these fields and for workforce development in the region.

Dr. Murray believes the results of the review will be in their favour, adding they will continue to provide what he calls top-tier educational opportunities that meet the economic needs of the province in the meantime.

In February 2018, the former NDP government announced that the college would be given degree-granting status, putting it on track to becoming a polytechnic university. At that time, the college said it could take two to three years before students would be able to enroll in a degree program.