Education, Culture and Employment Minister Caroline Cochrane held a public meeting in Inuvik Nov. 14 to discuss turning Aurora College into a polytechnic university.

Members of the public were invited to attend the meeting to learn about the transformation, ask questions and make suggestions.

Last month, Cochrane announced that the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) had accepted the recommendation made in the Aurora College Foundational Review to transform the college into a polytechnic university.

Chris Joseph, project lead for the Aurora College Foundational Review, left, and Caroline Cochrane, minister of Education, Culture and Employment held a public meeting in Inuvik to discuss turning the college into a polytechnic university Nov. 14.
Samantha McKay/NNSL photo

At the meeting in Inuvik, Cochrane said the transformation to a polytechnic university will be an ongoing process that will take years.

According to a statement made by Cochrane Oct. 26, a polytechnic university will “combine the practical approach of a college education and the depth of study associated with a university program. Polytechnic programs are hands-on and technology-based, providing students with practical training for in-demand jobs.”

One concern brought up at the meeting was a lack of collaboration between Aurora College and local organizations, which Cochrane said she wants to change.

She said the GNWT must work collaboratively with municipal and Indigenous governments in order to ensure Aurora College sees a successful future.

“We do this in partnership, or we don’t do it at all,” said Cochrane.

Another discussion point was where the headquarters of the polytechnic university would be located.

Right now, Fort Smith is Aurora College’s main campus. It also has a campus in Inuvik and Yellowknife, as well as 21 community learning centres across the territory.

At the meeting, Cochrane said all three Aurora College campuses have their own strengths and weaknesses, but none of them can meet all of the needs of every student simultaneously.

Cochrane said all three campuses would remain, and that the GNWT would not “pit the community campuses against one another,” implying that there would not be a so-called “main campus.”

In addition, Cochrane said the college will be creating partnerships with already-established Canadian universities for mentorship in their transformation to a polytechnic university.

Public meetings were also held in Fort Smith and Yellowknife. This is the minister’s second tour of public meetings regarding the foundational review, the first of which were held in June 2018.

Cochrane could not be reached for comment in time for publication.

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