Red River College welcomed more new faces than ever before this fall, as the number of full-time students at its eight Manitoba campuses jumped by 5.5%, setting a new enrolment record.
Growth took place across the college, including big jumps in Advanced Diploma (+15.1%) and Fast Track (+45.7%) enrolments.
The introduction of RRC’s first two degree programs, in Construction Management and Nursing, has also proven popular with new students.
"Degree programs allow students to obtain a more advanced level of technical training than is available in a traditional two-year diploma program," explained Ken Webb, RRC’s Vice-President of Academic & Research. "These programs have been developed in direct response to industry demand for more highly skilled graduates in certain occupational areas."
Full-time enrolment is also up 17.6% at RRC’s five regional campuses, located in Steinbach, Portage la Prairie, Gimli, Winkler and Peguis/Fisher River.
Those figures should continue to increase in the years ahead, as a new campus under development in Portage la Prairie — located in the historic former Victoria School building — will allow the College to expand training opportunities in the Central Plains region.
While students are increasingly seeing the advantages of a college education — including hands-on learning, instructors with real-world experience and work placement opportunities — RRC officials say finding somewhere to put them all is a growing challenge.
"Red River College has been operating at close to full capacity for several years," said Webb. "We’ve been very creative in making use of our existing space, but to continue our critical role in supporting the growth of Manitoba industry, we are going to have to grow ourselves."
Webb said the development of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute in the Exchange District — a new home for RRC’s culinary and hospitality programs and site of the College’ first student residence — will provide some much-needed new teaching space. However, he stresses the college must continue to work closely with industry and government to ensure the facilities are in place to meet the labour demands of the province.