U of C cancels admissions to collaborative degree programs at RDC

The president of Red Deer College is lamenting news that the University of Calgary is cancelling admissions to its collaborative degree programs at RDC.

Dr. Peter Nunoda admits they didn’t see it coming.

“We didn’t have any sort of prior indication that this was going to happen,” says Nunoda. “I don’t have the actual details, the only thing that I can guess is, this is probably a budget decision based on the latest provincial budget and what the University of Calgary feels it needs to do to try and cut some of the expenses.”

The decision affects more than 100 U of C students enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Sociology and Psychology) and Bachelor of Science (majoring in Psychology) programs who attend RDC. Students enrolled in other collaborative degrees at RDC are unaffected.

Nunoda says the affected students have since been informed of their options to complete their studies.

“In addition, we’re going to have to reassure students for next fall starting, that there will be a pathway for them,” he explains. “All of that work is underway and we don’t have specific details, but we are planning to meet with the students just to reassure them that we at Red Deer will do everything in our power to ensure that they do have that pathway.”

Nunoda admits one of the options offered by the U of C to affected students, is for them to finish their studies outside of Red Deer.

“They could complete their program at the University of Calgary, but I should say, is that is not a guarantee of entry into the program in Calgary,” exclaims Nunoda. “They would move from a cohort at Red Deer College, into the larger pool of competition for spots at the University of Calgary. But again, we will have those conversations with the University of Calgary.”

In the meantime, College officials say the University of Calgary has committed to offering courses at RDC until April 2021, but add no new students are being accepted by the U of C to begin classes at RDC next fall.

Officials point out though, that RDC will continue to accept applications from new students who are able to complete the first two years of a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees, and then complete their degrees by transferring to another post-secondary institution.

Dr. Nunoda adds however, the news truly highlights the need for further degree-granting abilities at RDC.

“If we have our own degrees, then we can give students assurances obviously, of their ability to complete the degree programs in which they enroll,” says Nunoda. “It’s a message we’ve been communicating and it’s just one more example, and an unfortunate one to say the least. But an example of why we need to make that transition to university status.”

For the last two decades, College officials say collaborative degrees have provided RDC students the opportunity to complete their studies in Red Deer, while receiving their degree from a partner institution, such as the University of Calgary.

In addition, RDC is said to be moving swiftly to complete proposals to offer its first bachelor degrees in Arts, Education, Science (majoring in Biological Sciences) and Business Administration.

Pending government approvals, students could begin classes in these degrees at Red Deer University as early as September 2021.

Nunoda says plans to become RDU are still on track.

“That is asking the Ministry for an Order in Council in the spring and launching the university brand in September of 2020,” adds Nunoda. “Nothing at this point indicates that we’re off that timeline. We want to serve the students of central Alberta in the best way possible, with as many program offerings as we can.”