GPRC may achieve ‘degree-granting’ status, but may not become a university after all

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Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) may become a polytechnic school rather than a university.

Though Alberta Advanced Education granted approval to GPRC being deemed a university with more degree offerings in early 2018, advanced education minister Demetrios Nicolaides said last week further review is needed as to whether GPRC should be deemed a university*.

Still, GPRC may still become able to grant university degrees as a polytechnic.

“The advantage of a polytechnic over a university is that polytechnics may offer degree programs and trades programs in the same institution, ensuring that both groups of students are served,” said Taylor Hides, Alberta Advanced Education spokesperson.

Cherene Griffiths, GPRC external relations vice-president, met Sexsmith council during its regular meeting last week on another matter when the question of university status arose.

“What the institution has been working on behind the scenes is getting approval for degree-granting,” Griffiths told council.

“That work is still continuing, and it looks like we’re heading down a positive path to being approved for degree-granting status.”

Griffiths said she believes GPRC is nearing “degree-granting” status but couldn’t comment on a timeline.

Meanwhile, Hides said it is “entirely possible” a school can be authorized to award university degrees without being a full university.

Provincial legislation states trades and apprenticeship programs aren’t in the mandate of universities, and the government doesn’t want GPRC to be deprived of these programs, she said.

GPRC currently offers university programs, including two or more years in Bachelor of Arts programs with transference available to four-year institutions.

The school provides Bachelor of Science - Nursing and Bachelor of Education programs in partnership with the University of Alberta, Hides said.

The Alberta government has contracted McKinsey and Company consultants to evalute the state of post-secondary education; a report is expected this summer.*

Red Deer College was also being considered for a transition to university status, but Nicolaides questioned the need for this change as well.

*as reported by CBC News

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News