UAlberta, Keyano team up to educate teachers in northern Alberta

Partnership with Keyano College allows students in Fort McMurray area to earn education degrees without having to leave home.


(Edmonton) A program launched by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education and Keyano College in Fort McMurray is letting students stay in their home communities while they earn education degrees.

A formal agreement was signed Feb. 9 in Fort McMurray by the two institutions to collaborate on delivery of the Faculty of Education’s bachelor of education degree. The program, which has previously graduated two groups of students living in Fort McMurray and the Wood Buffalo region between 2007 and 2012, opens the classroom door again this fall to students who want to earn a U of A bachelor’s degree in elementary education, without having to relocate to Edmonton.

“The University of Alberta and the Faculty of Education are pleased to offer this program, in partnership with Keyano College, to students who want to earn a U of A degree while staying in their own community,” said dean Fern Snart. “For some students, it isn’t possible to leave their homes and families to earn a degree, so this collaboration offers them that opportunity.”

“We are excited to offer this collaborative degree in partnership with the University of Alberta,” added Catherine Koch, vice-president (academic) at Keyano College. “This memorandum of understanding represents our ongoing commitment to provide community access to a high-quality post-secondary education, with a variety of academic options. Staying within the region to pursue a degree is beneficial to students and will develop much-needed teachers for our young and growing community.”

A cohort of up to 32 students will be enrolled through the BEd program in September 2015 and will complete their first two years of study through Keyano College, then become U of A students for the third and fourth years, all the while staying in their community. The BEd is the same one that is delivered on the U of A campus.

William Kitson, who chose to settle in Fort McMurray with his wife and three sons, will enrol in the final two years of the collaborative program to earn a teaching degree so he can resume a career he started in Mexico.

“This program has made a huge difference in my life, allowing me to pursue my love for teaching, all the while building a solid foundation for me to support my family and contribute to the future of this community as well,” Kitson said.

Being able to stay and study in Fort McMurray “makes all the difference to my family and me,” he added. “I am able to maintain my support network, my family, my friends that help me persevere through those long hours of studying.”

This latest partnership with Keyano College is one of the ways the U of A is committed to serving Albertans in the Wood Buffalo region and Fort McMurray, said Roger Epp, deputy provost. The U of A also shares a bachelor of science collaborative nursing program and a Faculty of Engineering transfer partnership with Keyano College.

“We are proud to be working with our partners at Keyano College in providing hometown access to a world-class education for students in the Fort McMurray area,” Epp said. “The University of Alberta is dedicated to serving all of the people of this province, and the agreement signed today helps deliver on that promise.”

The Keyano/Faculty of Education cohort is the most recent of similar degree-completion programs the U of A faculty offers in partnership with other post-secondary institutions in Alberta—including a BEd degree program with Grande Prairie Regional College and Red Deer College—and through the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program with Northern Lakes College in Slave Lake, Portage College and Blue Quills First Nations College.

Of the students enrolled in previous BEd cohorts at Keyano College between 2007 and 2012, 98 per cent graduated and found teaching posts primarily in northern Alberta. As well, school boards in Wood Buffalo often look to the graduates of the program to fill teaching positions within Fort McMurray and the surrounding area.

“They are valued for already being part of and knowing the community,” Snart said. “Today’s partnership agreement with Keyano College is part of the Faculty of Education’s commitment to serve Alberta students who want to become teachers.”