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GPRC can study offering degrees: province

Minister Schmidt announces new degree opportunities at GPRC with Minister McCuaig-Boyd, Grande Prairie Regional College president Don Gnatiuk; board chair Natalia Reiman; Students’ Association president Blaine Badiuk; Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given, Cris Seppola-Podsada from the Grande Prairie & District Chamber of Commerce and county Reeve Leanne Beaupre.

The half-century mission of Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) to become a university are advancing.

The province said Thursday it has given GPRC, which has a satellite campus housed at the Jasper Employment and Education Centre, the green light to offer more degrees so students can study closer to home.

The first step in the multi-year process to becoming a university is providing local students with more program and degree options. The government and the college will work with the Campus Alberta Quality Council to explore expanding existing programs with new courses and undergraduate degrees, according to a press release.

“Our college plays an important role in the local community and economy,” GPRC president Don Gnatiuk said in a press release. “By offering our own degrees, we’ll be able to continue to meet the demands to attract and retain the region’s top student talent.”

Grande Prairie is touted as one of the youngest and fastest-growing cities in Canada.

“With a median age of 30 and a central location in northwestern Alberta, the community is well-positioned to host a university that will train and retain future generations of highly skilled workers,” the release read.

GPRC offers a number of apprenticeship, academic upgrading and career-ready programs, but students who wish to pursue a degree have to move at least 450 kilometres to Edmonton and many don’t return, it continued.

“Keeping highly motivated students in Grande Prairie will have an enormous impact on the city’s future,” the president of the school’s student union, Blaine Badiuk, said.

The president of the local Chamber of Commerce, Cris Seppola-Podsada, said the move should help the regional economic hub.

“We’ll be able to supply local employers with well-educated employees and students will no longer have to leave their community in order to further their education. This move supports future growth in our region.”


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