Funding boost from Government of Alberta helping adults with disabilities access post-secondary experience at MRU

Jory Chan speaking at the event.

Inclusive Post-secondary Education student Jory Chan speaks at the event.

Jory Chan says he was looking for a way to continue his education when he reached out to Mount Royal University’s Inclusive Post-secondary Education (IPSE) program, which provides students with developmental disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in post-secondary classes. Now in his third year of studies, Chan calls it “a miracle.” 

With adults with disabilities in the spotlight, the Government of Alberta announced new funding for post-secondary programs at MRU and other universities and colleges on Friday, Dec. 3.

The $2 million in support, unveiled on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, will help more students with developmental disabilities pursue post-secondary education.

On hand for the announcement held at the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts were:

  • The Honourable Demetrios Nicolaides, minister of Advanced Education
  • The Honourable Jason Luan, minister of Community and Social Services
  • Tim Rahilly, president and vice-chancellor
  • Elizabeth Evans, interim provost and vice-president, Academic 
  • Paul Rossmann, vice-president, University Advancement
  • Brad Mahon, dean, Faculty of Continuing Education
  • Craig Baskett, program administrator, TVP (Transitional Vocational Program) and IPSE
  • Jory Chan, IPSE student and Amanda Wilson, IPSE facilitator
  • Elaine and Megan Wood, longtime IPSE and TVP supporters. Megan is an alumna of both programs.

The expansion of the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education and Transitional Vocational Programs will help more Albertans with developmental disabilities reach their educational goals and prepare for the workforce. The Government of Alberta currently supports more than 248 post-secondary students with developmental disabilities.

“This investment gives more students with developmental disabilities in Alberta the opportunity to advance their personal development and build knowledge and skills similar to their peers. Alberta’s government believes every Albertan deserves the chance to fully participate in their communities, and this supports that goal by also providing a strong pathway to employment for people with developmental disabilities,” Luan said.

"Mount Royal University is grateful to the Government of Alberta for its support of Inclusive Post-Secondary Education and the Transitional Vocational Program,” Rahilly said. “As we use this funding to expand these programs, MRU is dedicated to creating a different kind of undergraduate experience, one that offers a diverse scholarly community where students of all abilities thrive, find their identity, explore their potential and prepare for their futures.”

At MRU, the Transitional Vocational Program (TVP) provides a variety of unique post-secondary experiences that foster personal, professional and academic growth for adults with developmental disabilities. Its hallmarks are: empowerment, teamwork, professionalism, accountability and respect. 2020 marked the 40th anniversary of the TVP.

TVP’s Employment Preparation Certificate prepares adults with developmental disabilities for competitive employment and community living. The 12-month program combines on-campus instruction with community-based practicums. Graduates possess skills, attitudes and behaviours required for competitive employment in a variety of entry-level jobs.

From left, MRU President and Vice-Chancelllor Tim Rahilly, Continuing Education Dean Brad Mahon; Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides; IPSE facilitator Amanda Wilson; student Jory Chan; and Minister of Community and Social Services Jason Luan.

From left, MRU President and Vice-Chancellor Tim Rahilly, Continuing Education Dean Brad Mahon; Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides; IPSE facilitator Amanda Wilson; student Jory Chan; and Minister of Community and Social Services Jason Luan.

TVP also offers part-time studies, supporting students as they build life skills such as interpersonal communication and meal planning, and also improves abilities in areas including reading, writing and math. From learning how to code to preparing to take the learner's licence drivers test, these courses are designed to meet students' practical needs and interests.

Since IPSE started in 2006, approximately 45 students have studied in a range of disciplines, from computer science to criminology, social work to health and physical education at Mount Royal. Students audit the courses, which means they do not receive credits on their University transcript. Education facilitators assist students in choosing course loads and classes, and modify course materials to students’ abilities with input from instructors. The facilitators provide tutoring and support in keeping track of assignments, exams and more.

“For the longest time I was wanting to prolong my education through post-secondary but was never able to because of my disability. And then I found out about IPSE and I was more than excited to be part of it,” Chan says. “Next semester, I will be starting my first practicum with the child and youth care counselling major. I’m excited to experience fieldwork and to build relationships with the children and youth.”

During the fall and winter semesters, IPSE students take part in a variety of programs of study throughout the University based on their interests. With the addition of the extension certificate, students will now study one of four new IPSE-specific courses in the spring and summer semesters. The newly created courses — Community Citizenship, Language Skills, Personal Management Skills and Professional Skills — are designed to fill skill gaps and provide a fully rounded educational experience to students.

“Albertans should be able to fully participate in their communities by obtaining a post-secondary education, however financial barriers exist for many students, preventing their enrolment,” says Rachel Timmermans, vice-president, External, for the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University. “This program will help alleviate some barriers enabling Albertans to gain additional knowledge and skills valuable for employment and community involvement."


This provincial funding benefits:

  • Mount Royal University — $162,218 for the Transitional Vocational Program and $178,317 for the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education program
  • Inclusion Alberta — $620,000 and a $573,600 budget increase for the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education program
  • Lethbridge Family Services — $212,322 for TVP

The Government of Alberta has a previously signed provincial contract with Inclusion Alberta worth approximately $2.4 million. In addition, the government has previously signed contracts worth approximately $6.1 million with the following IPSE and TVP providers:

  • Mount Royal University
  • Lethbridge Community College
  • Edmonton on Campus Education Society (University of Alberta)
  • Integrated Post-Secondary Education Society of Alberta (University of Calgary and St. Mary’s University)
  • NorQuest College
  • Red Deer College
  • Olds College


Dec. 3, 2021 — Peter Glenn

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