- Posted by MG UG
- On July 2, 2018
- 0 Comments
Red River College has closed 3 programs, one of which is the GIS diploma program and has laid off several staff members. RRC said that as a result of “low industry and labout market demand and difficulty attracting students” have decided to close the GIS program and layoff staff in order to meet Manitoba Government budget cuts. For further details you can refer to the original Winnipeg Sun article.
Often administrators, boards and institutions jump to a simple solution to complex problems and while this may meet the need of the current budget crisis, it’s not likely to end here. Continued realignment, fiscal responsibility, and an educational institutes mandate will continue for the foreseeable future. Program closure can be and should be a difficult decision and should be carried out in consultation with industry partners, stakeholders, advisory boards, faculty involvement and a detailed examination of labour markets. This process should be done over a period of time and not a knee-jerk reaction. Program closure should be based on what is of value and why is it of value, thinking less about the budget crisis and more about the longer term impact on the institution and the industry it supports. Effective leaders listen and are open to wise counsel and influence. Program closure is a difficult and difficult process for all those affected, the human element cannot be overlooked.
As an educator, I find that while colleges have a responsibility of fiscal management there are many ways to cut the budget without cutting programs. As a GIS instructor who has gone through a program review and reallocation process I understand the inner workings of low enrollment programs, declining student demographics, budget shortfalls and increased tuition and other fees. Ultimately, as educators, our role is to deliver industry relevant grads with skills that can help the geospatial market whether it’s in government, nonprofits, environmental agencies or other organizations. We now have one less institution being able to deliver a “post-graduate” certificate that specializes in GIS. Overall this decision will hurt the practice of geospatial industry, remove potential short term and longer term work force, decrease the ability of using a student workforce to assist organizations in small projects through the capstone project programs.
As a professional are you concerned about this education program closure? Why not reach out to RRC and let them know; Conor Lloyd Communications Officer firstname.lastname@example.org, Paul Vogt, RRC President email@example.com, Honorable Ian Wishart, Minister of Education and Training firstname.lastname@example.org. The MGUG board is currently drafting an official response letter regarding the program closure.
As a GIS professional, I value the educational experience and do understand that we can train on the job, but employees need the basic skills in order to get started, and that’s where these one year college diplomas excel. We all have the responsibility to do what we can to sustain the industry, it takes time to train, mentor and encourage recent grads but where would each of us be without someone who mentored us?
Steven Hills, GISP
MGUG Education Co-Director