A few weeks ago, a presentation by the planners of Aurora College’s transition to a polytechnic university was blinded by complaints from Inuvik city councilors about the loss of programs on the current campus.
Com. Alana Mero, who previously taught at the college, noted that a number of programs have been cut from the Inuvik campus and listed four: the Natural Resources Technology program, the Recreation Leaders program, the social work and the criminal justice program.
It’s unfortunate that the presenter was unprepared to deal with the skepticism she encountered, but City Council is quite right to question how Aurora College will be a credible university if it can’t even provide adequate programming on its campus.
We have two of the best organized child care centers in the territory — the Children’s First Center and the Inuvik Youth Centre, but to get the credentials to enter this growing local job market, you have to go to Yellowknife for two years or try to learn the trade remotely. Want to learn how to maintain heavy equipment, which is so badly needed here? It’s a few years in Fort Smith. Do you want to become an apprentice carpenter? Up to four years in Fort Smith.
Of course, getting the in-person learning that most people need to gain knowledge becomes even more expensive with the travel costs involved – not only are we talking airfare to and from Yellowknife, which typically cost $1200 per pop, prospective students must also find accommodation and food to support themselves. In other words, in order to get better training to get a better job, you will need to get a full-time job while you are on your training.
Should we wonder why there are so few admissions to these programs?
My better half has been trying to take a project management course on campus at Inuvik Aurora College for two years now. It keeps getting canceled because she’s the only person to sign up. We are now at the point where we are looking at taking the courses remotely through Yukon College. Aurora College simply does not have the resources available to deal with it.
When I first came to the North, I requested that Inuvik be the center of the newly accredited multi-campus Aurora University. Overall, 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 works 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 here rightly wonder if its services will be so limited.
Our former editor, Bruce Valpy, pointed out that a better use of resources would be to address the deficit in high school graduation rates in the North, because a university is inaccessible if you do not have the level 30 classes required from of the 12th year. .
There’s a lot to build here, the Aurora Research Institute is doing amazing things here in Inuvik. But planners must consider the need for on-the-ground programs here in Inuvik if the campus portion of Aurora College is to remain relevant as the institution transitions to a polytechnic university.