In my last post, I mentioned that there are two criteria for de facto accreditation for universities in Canada. Institutional membership in AUCC is one, while legislation permitting the conferring of degrees by the province or territory is the other. While the first is largely out of reach, pending several things happening, the second already exists.
Three years ago, the Yukon College Act was amended to meet several of the other criteria that AUCC called for in case they would be willing to drop the two criteria of 500 university FTEs and the more than 50% university program rules. At this time, YTG granted Yukon College the right to grant degrees.
Also, Yukon College students actually can receive one of several degrees, although these are not granted by the college itself, but rather, through reciprocal agreements with other universities. For example, a Bachelor of Education or Bachelor of Social Work degree has been available through the college, conferred by the University of Regina in both cases. A Bachelor of Circumpolar Studies is available, conferred through the University of the Arctic, a consortium of universities and colleges in North America and Europe. A Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Conservation Sciences is conferred through the University of Alberta, and, a Masters of Public Administration degree can be received through the University of Alaska Southeast.
The degree alternatives are provided at a reasonable tuition and are popular choices for students. And, since these are overseen through existing, accredited universities, a recognized degree is the outcome for students who complete the program, a possibility that may not exist for students of a new Yukon university. No, these choices may not match the requirements of everyone; however, is meeting everyone’s needs actually possible for a reasonable investment?
Also, remember that a university degree is not the only outcome in postsecondary education. This is where the College provides a valuable resource. Programs in technologies, trades, practical nursing, upgrading, etc., meet the requirement of the majority of students who are not seeking a university degree as the result of their education. Many graduates are currently employed in good jobs here at home. Setting up a funding-competitive institution, or worse, allowing a funding-competitive institution to overwhelm the existing College for the glory of issuing degrees will simply put a poorly considered campaign promise over the needs of the majority of Yukoners.
In conclusion (yes, it took me a bit to get here), I personally would like to have a university here. I am an academic, and if I didn’t, it would be more than a little odd, after all. However, the costs and the potential results could be both financially and educationally disastrous, leaving us a legacy we may well do without…