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GPRC takes first steps to university status

The Government of Alberta has given Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) approval to pursue becoming a university with more degree offerings so students in northwestern Alberta can study closer to home.

GPRC takes first steps to university status

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

Grande Prairie is 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.  

Currently, GPRC offers a number of apprenticeship, academic upgrading and career-ready programs, but students who wish to pursue a degree currently have to move away from the community and many do not return. The closest university is in Edmonton, more than 450 kilometers away. 

By authorizing the college to start the process of providing degrees, more students will stay in Grande Prairie and work in the community following graduation. This will create a more diversified workforce and stronger regional economy.

“Our government is proud to strengthen GPRC’s role in enhancing the energy of northwestern Alberta by making this change. It means future students can complete their education and work close to home instead of being forced to leave to pursue their dreams.”

Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education

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.

“Allowing Grande Prairie Regional College to grant undergraduate degrees and expand its programs is the right decision and one that our college community has been striving for since it opened its doors 50 years ago. Our college plays an important role in the local community and economy. 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.”

Don Gnatiuk, president and CEO, Grande Prairie Regional College

As a 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.” 

Cris Seppola-Podsada, chair, Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce

“We’re happy that the government has recognized the important role Grande Prairie Regional College plays in this community. When the college offers degrees more students will be able to continue and complete their education in Grande Prairie, without needing to move away from their homes. Keeping highly motivated students in Grande Prairie will have an enormous impact on the city’s future."

Blaine Badiuk, president, Students’ Association of Grande Prairie Regional College

The government is reviewing other aspects of the post-secondary system and will share more about the modernization in the coming months.  

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