Original Published 13:14 Apr 28, 2022

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Town of Strathmore is considering its options to attract and retain a post-secondary education presence within the local region.

Geoff Person with Town of Strathmore Communications, presented to Town council on April 20 about the subject after following up on a motion made by Councillor Brent Wiley in February, talking about the different tactics that smaller communities can take to attract and retain post-secondary campuses in their communities.

“What we did is we took a really deep dive into Alberta 2030 – the province’s 10-year plan for post secondaries a couple years ago. We also went in and looked at all the different institutions around the province and what they’ve done around expanding, or reducing their number of satellites,” said Person. “There is no definitive list of the tactics that a community can take to attract a campus, especially right now. Timing is a really big piece of this and unfortunately, right now, we’re in a period where there isn’t a lot of investment in post secondaries expanding their brick-and-mortar campuses.”

Person identified to council that over the past three years, more post-secondary campuses in Alberta have declined or closed as opposed to experiencing expansion. 

Based on Alberta 2030 and the new financial performance-based metrics that Alberta Advanced Education is following, Person said one of the primary goals is reducing the per-student cost of administration for post-secondary institutions. 

“Alberta has one of the highest per-student costs and a big factor in that is that Alberta also has the lowest post-secondary engagement in the country,” said Person who proposed two recommendations for council’s consideration in order to begin the process of establishing a plan for appealing to post-secondary institutions regarding a potential local satellite campus.

The first plan being to work with local school boards to find out what Grade 11 and 12 students want, what institutions and programs they are interested in, what a local option would do in terms of their preferences for enrolling locally.

The second is to carry on working with the Strathmore Municipal Library in order to evaluate the interests of potential adult students.

“We think that by doing some of the work with the library to really promote that hub, the news will also come back with some solid metrics around what potential enrollment would be for adult post-secondary (students) in Strathmore,” said Person. “In essence, what this would give us is a bit of a roadmap towards which institutions would provide the best bang for our buck in investing in Strathmore.”

Council motioned to direct administration to investigate a partnership with Golden Hills School Division #75 and Christ the Redeemer School Division to determine local demand for post-secondary education, directed administration to continue working with the Strathmore Municipal Library and to develop an advocacy plan for post-secondary in alignment with local demand research and report back to council no later than Oct. 5. The motion was carried unopposed.

This item reprinted with permission from Strathmore Times, Strathmore, Alberta