The name of the largest college in Manitoba has changed to better reflect changes in its approach to education.
The institution formerly known as Red River College (RRC) added the word polytechnic to its name and will now be known as Red River College Polytechnic, or RRC Polytech.
“The term polytechnic is one that’s used around the world to describe institutions that do exactly what we do, that really focus on strategic workforce development,” said RRC Polytech president and CEO Fred Meier.
Meier said Red River College was founded 80 years ago as a community college, but “over probably the last decade and maybe a little bit more, we’ve really grown into a polytechnic institution.”
The name change was announced as part of the release of RRC Polytech’s new five-year strategic plan called In Front of What’s Ahead, which covers 2022 to 2026.
The plan lays out three priorities — changing the learning model to meet new and emerging needs, committing to truth and reconciliation with Indigenous people and deepening partnerships with businesses and communities.
“The learning model that we have and the way that we’ve approached [it] in the past, it’s very traditional,” Meier explained.
“It’s cohort-based, it’s time-bound, traditionally Monday to Friday, [8 a.m. to 4 p.m.] over two terms.
“What we heard from both our learners and also from employers, and [also from] our other partners, was that it really wasn’t working. We needed to build more flexibility and agility into that learning model […] We’re not going to stop what we’ve traditionally done and our traditional modes of delivery, but we’re looking to expand that sort of high-quality delivery that we have in academic programming through more flexibility.”
The college will also begin to offer microcredentials and short-term training to meet the needs of students who are working and not going to school full time but need to gain “new and emerging skills.”
The second priority laid out in the plan is a commitment to truth and reconciliation with Indigenous people and support for equity, diversity and inclusion.
“We know that when we make this a priority, it does transcend through our students into the workforce and we also heard from our partners that are employers that are looking for a diverse talent pipeline as well,” Meier explained.
“It’s quite clear that we need to be more deliberate about increasing diversity, about creating an anti-racist culture inside of our institution and a culture that’s inclusive of our staff, of our students, of our partners and […] we need to be open to new perspectives […] including traditional Indigenous ways of learning and teaching into our academics, but really into all of our operations as well.”