The Town of Hinton and Northern Lakes College (NLC) officially announced their Education Partnership that will bring post-secondary education to Hinton in September.
Through a supported distance learning model, students can study from home or work.
“The intent of the pilot project is to partner with NLC to bring post-secondary options to Hinton. To that end the immediate focus will be on distance education. As the project evolves the logical next step would be to have one or more NLC administrators in the community to support student and NLC’s growth,” said Scott Kovatch, Hinton’s economic development officer.
The vision of this partnership is to create something unique to Hinton that focuses on supporting the education and training needs of the local residents and industry based on the positive track record of NLC, he added. While all universities have standards for accreditation with the provincial government, NLC has effectively delivered online classes well before COVID-19 and has proven it can adapt and pivot to support the needs of the communities it serves, stated Kovatch.
This is the reason why the Town of Hinton chose to partner with NLC in this pilot project.
Many of the programs available offer dual credit opportunities, which allows high school students to receive credit for college-level courses. The broad range of programming provided includes academic upgrading, apprenticeship and pre-employment trades, business and administrative studies, health careers, human service careers, resource technology, and university studies.
NLC provides flexible and quality educational programs and services that allow learners to balance work, home, and education, stated their press release.
The Supported Distance Learning (SDL) and Supported Distance Teaching (SDT) models include online delivery options such as NLC LIVE Online™ and NLC Anytime, Anywhere.
NLC did not respond to questions about this partnership prior to The Hinton Voice deadline.
During a council meeting in April, Hinton’s Council supported the development of a pilot project to recruit post-secondary education to Hinton with NLC.
The Town is contributing $5,000 in seed funding from the existing 2021 Economic Development budget to support a joint marketing initiative between the Town of Hinton and NLC.
During the meeting, administration explained that virtual services in the pilot project with NLC would be combined with hands-on in-class training for certain courses.
Hinton would become the hub during the pilot project and students located in Hinton could complete their practical work with their local employers, administration explained to council.
Council did express a desire at the time to include a bricks-and-mortar education facility in the future.
The last post-secondary education provider in Hinton was Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC), which announced in May 2020 that they would not reopen their physical location in Hinton but continue to offer online programming.
The GPRC Hinton Learning Centre shut its door to the public in March 2020 when the global COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The loss of GPRC was partially due to a provincial funding cut to their Campus Alberta Grants, which meant a 13 per cent reduction in the 2020-21 budget year for GPRC.
Hinton had some form of post-secondary education since 1982 when Yellowhead Regional Education Consortium (YREC) was initiated.
Classes have been brokered from the University of Alberta, MacEwan University, N.A.I.T., Norquest College, Keyano College, GPRC, and now NLC.
Prior to GPRC, the Hinton Campus had Norquest College and Grant MacEwan College as legal education hosts.
NLC has delivered relevant, high-quality learning opportunities to rural communities for more than 50 years.
To browse NLC programs, visit www.northernlakescollege.ca. Contact NLC at 1-866-652-3456 for more information on how to apply.
Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice