A few weeks ago a presentation by planners for Aurora College’s transition to a polytechnic university was blindsided by complaints from Inuvik Town councillors about the loss of programming at the current campus.
Coun. Alana Mero, who used to to teach at the college, noted a number of programs have been cut from the Inuvik campus and listed off four: natural resources technology program, the recreation leaders program, the social work program and the criminal justice program.
It’s unfortunate the presenter was unprepared to deal with the skepticism she met, but town council is absolutely right to question how Aurora college will be a credible university if it can’t even offer adequate programming at its campus.
We have two of the most well organized childcare centres in the territory — in the Children’s First Centre and the Inuvik Youth Centre, yet to get the required credentials to enter this growing local job market you have to go to Yellowknife for two years or attempt to learn the trade through distance learning. Want to learn how to maintain heavy equipment, which there is a huge need for up here? That’s a few years in Fort Smith. Hoping to apprentice as a carpenter? Up to four years in Fort Smith.
Of course, getting the in-person learning most people need to pick up knowledge becomes even more expensive with the travel costs involved — not only are we talking airfare to and from Yellowknife, which is usually $1200 a pop, prospective students also need to find living accommodations and food for sustenance. In other words, in the effort to get better training to get a better job, you’ll need to get a full time job while you’re getting your training.
Is there any wonder why there is so little intake on these programs?
When I first came up north I called for Inuvik to be the centre of the new accredited, multi-campus Aurora University. All in all, there really seems to be little enthusiasm for an accredited university here and it’s not hard to see why. As Alana pointed out, “if a program does well here it gets stolen by Fort Smith or Yellowknife.” The quest for an accredited university seems to be exclusive to the Yellowknife-class and people up here are rightly suspicious to wonder if its services will be as limited.
Our former publisher, Bruce Valpy, has pointed out a better use of resources would be to address the deficit in high school graduation rates in the North, since a University is inaccessible if you don’t have the required 30-Level classes from Grade 12.
There’s plenty to build on up here, the Aurora Research Institute is doing amazing things here in Inuvik. But planners need to factor in the need for on-the-ground programming here in Inuvik if the campus part of Aurora College is to remain relevant as the institution transitions to a polytechnic university.