It's official, a new university in Canada's arctic is a go. Yukon College will be re-launching as the first university in Canada's territories. Starting in 2020, the college will begin the transition and it's already getting international attention.
It was announced at the beginning of December that the northern territory's legislature passed a bill to make Yukon College a university.
According to The Canadian Press, a 2007 survey in all three territories found residents wanted to have more influence over Arctic research and Northern First Nations have been asking for a university for 50 years.
The new educational institution will keep the focus on the North and Indigenous content with research that will centre on issues of environmental conservation and sustainable resource development.
Also, it will meet a number of requirements and goals set out in the legislation that was just passed.
"It requires us to honour and support reconciliation with First Nations. I don't know of any university that has that, but we have it," said Tom Ullyett, chair of the board of governors at Yukon College, to The Canadian Press.
Once transformed, it will be the first institution of higher education in the territories to give a degree under its own name.
Nunavut and the Northwest Territories both have colleges offering courses that count towards degrees from institutions further south and Yukon College has also done the same.
However, with these changes, the first graduates of the governance program next spring will get diplomas that will read "Yukon University."
"Everybody knows we're moving toward something big and something special," said Ullyett.
Right now, the school offers many pathways for students like academic programs, trade programs, as well as professional and personal development programs to let Northerners further their education closer to home.
Ullyett said that accessibility is key for them and that tuition won't get much more expensive, staying in the bottom third of southern institutions that are comparable.
According to Study International, the future upgraded institution of higher education is already sparking global interest.
As they transform, the school is also expanding its international student recruitment and diversifying the home countries of the students who will study there.
Currently, Yukon College is funded by an annual grant from the territory, tuition, other government funds, and third-party grants.
Becoming a university will mean there is a higher cost when it comes to operations but just how much more is still under negotiation.
The official launch celebration is expected to take place on May 9, 2020.