Q&A: From Yukon College to Yukon University

What will the change mean?

Not a lot will change when Yukon College becomes a hybrid university. It is essentially evolving in that direction anyway - an institution that offers diplomas, certificates, trades, degrees, continuting education and upgrading. We have learned that it will be easier to attract Canadian and International students — who are more familiar with what a university can offer — and easier to attract investment and donations. It will provide greater opportunities for students at all levels.

Why make the change?

The territory has changed since the college was established 50 years ago. The post-secondary needs of Yukoners have also evolved: now, 48% of Yukon College students already have post-secondary experience and 30% of them already have a credential. Many students enter Yukon College to switch careers or go further with their existing career. Just over half of Yukon College students intend to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Additionally, Yukon expertise offers a unique perspective to the academic programming and research offerings across Canada and around the world. We're developing and delivering northern education, in the North. 

What is the university model?

Yukon University, through all of its campuses, will be a hybrid, offering programming found traditionally at colleges and at universities. It will be a flexible, post-secondary institution that includes a range of options for students, from upgrading to bachelor degrees, to post-grad opportunities. We will offer:

We have studied post-secondary institutions across Canada and in Scandinavia to assess how their programming and approach is relevant to the territory.

What about upgrading and vocational programming?

These will remain a vital part of a Yukon university. Popular certificate and diploma programs such as Health Care Assistant, Office Administration, Practical Nursing, Renewable Resources Management, Culinary Arts, and trades pre-apprenticeship programs will be maintained as long as the demand for them exists.

Industry and government partners are asking the College to expand trades programs to meet Yukon’s growing need for a skilled workforce, and to reduce the need to fly in workers.

Many students who initially enroll in upgrading intend to continue on to other programs.

How will this affect community campuses?

The territory’s 11 campuses  will remain vital and vibrant players at the college and in the university transition.

Investment in technology that supports flexible delivery options, compressed course delivery and online learning will allow us to expand the options available.

The $1.8 million investment by the federal and Yukon governments in the Mobile Trades Training Trailer allows the College to take hands-on skills training to the communities.

Will programs be cut if they don’t fit the university context?

Like any post-secondary institution, Yukon College examines and evaluates its programs. Assessment criteria include enrolment numbers, cost of delivery, success of students after graduation, overall fit with the institutional vision, and whether learning outcomes are in line with workforce needs.  Some programs and courses may be adjusted or cut; we will look for efficiencies in delivery. The university model will allow Yukon College to maintain what it does well and evolve to offer new programs.

Is this what the students want?

There are many types of students at Yukon College – those raised in the Yukon, those from other parts of Canada, and those from around the world.

Students from the Yukon tell us that they would like to have the option to stay here to study. Research shows that First Nations students typically are more successful with post-secondary studies when surrounded by their family, their culture, and near their communities. In fact, most students, regardless of culture, are more successful when they have support nearby.

While we won’t be able to offer enough degrees to meet the needs of all Yukon students, we will be able to offer a range of programs, tailored specifically for the North.

Almost one-third of Yukon College students moved to Yukon as adults, settled here, have families here, and do not want to move away to earn a credential. They are at Yukon College because they want to pursue education that is relevant to where they live.

Almost two-thirds of Yukon College students want to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Many of them begin university-level studies here, but transfer due to the small number of degree options available locally. Many would stay in Yukon if they could.

Internationally, Yukon College will be more successful as Yukon University. We will have the ability to bring the world’s cultures to the North, providing a globalized education for Yukoners.

Doesn’t Yukon College already deliver degrees?

Yukon College co-delivers three degree programs — Bachelor of Social Work, Bachelor of Environmental and Conservation Sciences, and Bachelor of Education — in partnership with other institutions. Yukon College faculty teach some or all of the course work.

Yukon College also provides access to a Master of Public Administration, a Master of Education and a Master of Business Administration in Community Economic Development at partner universities. These degrees are taught by faculty from the partner institution; YC provides resources, classroom space and support.

Why has it taken so long for Yukon College to offer its own degrees?

Yukon College plans to introduce its first made-in-Yukon degree program in 2017. Although the College has been able to grant degrees since 2009, we would like an external Quality Assurance (QA) Board to be in place. This ensures that our degrees are appropriately recognized and transferrable, providing the best possible value for our students. For QA, there is no board in any of the territories and it could be costly to set one up with only a single institution to oversee. Government of Yukon has decided to use Campus Alberta Quality Council's external quality assurance process. 

What new programs will the university offer?

Our first made-in-Yukon degree will be a Bachelor of policy studies in Indigenous governance. It builds on more than a decade of program development and partnership with Yukon First Nations. Another new option will be a post-graduate certificate in climate change and public policy, with a focus on northern communities.

Will all faculty require PhDs?

No.  In degree and university transfer programming, some faculty need to have PhDs.  Others need a master’s degree, or, if a professional program such as business, social work or education, a master’s degree combined with professional experience.    Most of our faculty already hold these credentials.   Other areas require specific credentials such as a  Red Seal  or accounting designation. Requirements vary depending on what is being taught.   For new degrees, we will seek out faculty with master’s and doctorates in specific fields as required.

What happened to the idea of a pan-territorial university?

Canada’s north is vast, and what works here may not work for other regions and communities. We will, however, continue to collaborate with partner institutions in the circumpolar region and in the three territories.

Will students see an increase in tuition?

Tuition fees at Yukon College are required by policy to be consistent with the lowest third of comparable institutions in Western Canada. This policy is expected to continue.

How much will it cost?

We have been working on costing the transition and the degree delivery O&M based on the 2016-2021 academic plan.  This could mean the reallocation of resources and/or new funding.

Yukon College will continue to seek strategic partners to help meet these costs, as it has done with the Yukon Research Centre and the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining.

How long will the process take?

There is no set timetable. Yukon College would like to meet a number of targets before it becomes a university. The development of made-in-Yukon degrees and post-graduate certificate programs are steps to achieve these targets. In addition, the Yukon Government must introduce new legislation. We anticipate that the process will be completed in five-seven years. Thus the transition might take place somewhere around 2021-2023. 

For more implementation information, including tasks and timelines, see http://yukoncollege.yk.ca/universityplanning/implementation.

Will there be a change in the size of the student body?

Yes, there will need to be. Yukon College has a plan to recruit students from across Canada, targeting our marketing and recruitment at regions where we're already getting students. We’re developing programming in niche areas, making Yukon College all that much more attractive, due to specalizing in specific areas where we already have an established reputation as a leader. 

The College also intends to expand international student recruitment. Work in this area has begun and international student numbers are increasing. These student pay for the full cost of their education. In 2014/15 there were 92 FTEs. In the previous year there were 55.

Where can I learn more about Yukon College?

Check out our Annual report on the Institutional Research and Planning page of the website.

Or contact Jacqueline Bedard, Executive Director, External and Government Relations
867 668-8806, jbedard@yukoncollege.yk.ca