Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Provincial funding to open new seats in high demand post-secondary programs

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Southern Alberta will have 184 new seats in high demand programs at Lethbridge College, the University of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat College as soon as this fall. They are funded through the province’s Alberta At Work program.

“A strong, rebounding and growing economy doesn’t come without its own challenges and one of those challenges is the lack of skilled talent,” said Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education. “That is why we are investing in programs to get Albertans back to work in good paying jobs and we are transforming our adult learning system to focus on providing high quality education and the skills and training needs for Alberta’s future.”

Lethbridge College will receive $1.2 million to create 36 seats in agriculture and nursing programs. Medicine Hat College will get $324,000 for 30 new seats in its healthcare aide certificate program. The University of Lethbridge will get $3.7 million for 118 seats total in its bachelor of nursing, master of science in management with focus on business analytics, bachelor of management with focus on business administration and its bachelor of science in computer science.

Mike Mahon, UofL president and vice chancellor, said he does not know how many new faculty positions will need to be added to support the new intake of students. He said he is excited about expanding the nursing program, which is a collaboration with Lethbridge College.

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“The challenge will very much be finding new folks to contribute to that program but one of the big issues is not only on the employment side as it relates to our students — the other challenge is finding the skilled instructors at both our colleges and universities to contribute to these [growing] programs,” he said.

The province asked for proposals from all post-secondary institutions for expansion of high-demand programs. They were evaluated for labour market demand and scored for learner demand, work integrated learning pathways and the ability to start more students in the fall, according to Nicolaides.

”What we are doing here today is helping to break down some of those barriers because there are a number of areas in healthcare and aviation, film, television, veterinary medicine, where there are long waitlists and students want to enter those areas. They want to contribute to our province in those respective professions but it’s challenging for them to be able to be admitted into those programs because of a lack of capacity,” Nicolaides said.

He said the funds are not for physical infrastructure at the institutions, but for materials and instruction costs to shorten wait-lists.

This is a step forward in reducing barriers to entry and inequalities in attaining higher education and addressing societal challenges, building networks and increasing accessibility and opportunities for personal and professional development within our campus community,” said Kairvee Bhattm president of UofL students’ Union.

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