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‘Having a polytechnic is far less limiting’: Acting GPRC President

The Acting President of Grande Prairie Regional College believes expanding on the programs already on offer was one of the biggest drawing points in their push to become a polytechnic institute.

Dr. Glenn Feltham says a polytechnic institution allows for a greater impact on the economy in northwestern Alberta, as it will allow them to provide further education in trades, apprenticeships, technology, and healthcare.

“We not only want to expand our skilled trades but we want to dramatically expand this to those broader needs for skilled trade professionals.”

In 2018, the NDP government announced that GPRC would be given degree-granting status as a polytechnic university, which has now changed into becoming a polytechnic institution.

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A typical university offers a greater focus on theory topics such as math, science, English, and history, whereas polytechnics bring a deeper focus into applied skill training. Dr. Feltham says the biggest misconception about polytechnics is that they are not degree-granting institutions.

Feltham adds by changing GPRC into a polytechnic institution, the school will be able to provide certificates and diplomas, as well as degrees. He says that allows the college to have more range in the programs they can provide.

“It tends to align very, very much back to the core economy of an area.”

He says those studying at the eventual polytechnic institution will help fill skill and labour gaps in the Grande Prairie region. He says that belief holds true for specialties, especially things like healthcare technology.

“That can be everything from respiratory therapists to ultrasound technicians. It’s not just doctors and nurses that we need to support in our health system.”

Feltham says polytechnic institutions allow graduating students to have more skills in not only their chosen industry or job but their lives as well.

Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides announced Tuesday that Grande Prairie Regional College will become the province’s newest polytechnic institution.

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