Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 21, 2016 - 7:00 am

GN creates committee to oversee joint-venture university project

Nunavut officials touring southern universities to look at best practices

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Education Minister Paul Quassa said the GN is moving ahead with plans to create a joint-venture university in partnership with Nunavut Arctic College and a southern university. (FILE PHOTO)
Education Minister Paul Quassa said the GN is moving ahead with plans to create a joint-venture university in partnership with Nunavut Arctic College and a southern university. (FILE PHOTO)

(Updated Oct. 21)

Nunavut’s education minister says the territory has made progress towards its plans for creating a joint-venture university in partnership with Nunavut Arctic College and an established university.

That’s the path the Government of Nunavut has opted to take following a feasibility study conducted earlier this year which found the territory would not have the student population needed to support a stand-alone university.

“Since selecting this option, our work to move this project forward has continued,” Education Minister Paul Quassa told the Nunavut Legislative Assembly Oct. 19.

That includes the creation of a committee with representation from GN departments, Inuit organizations and industry partners, which will oversee the joint venture.

In August, a group of officials from the education department and Arctic College visited five Canadian universities in three provinces to look at “best practices,” Quassa said. The tour visited the University of Guelph/Humber, University of Regina, Thompson Rivers University, First Nations University and Vancouver Island University.

The group plans to visit Dalhousie University, Cape Breton University, McMaster University and Laval university in November.

One of the feasibility study’s key findings noted that enrollment wouldn’t likely be high enough to support an independent Nunavut university.

The national body representing Canadian universities, Universities Canada, which counts 97 members, lists a number of criteria for accepting universities as members, including a minimum enrolment of 500 full-time students at the launch of any independent university.

The study estimated that a University of Nunavut could only count on about 133 full-time students if its first year of operation was 2017.

The study also looked at the infrastructure needs of a new institution—from academic space, to ancillary services and residence facilities—estimating costs of up to $10,000 per square metre of space.

It pegged the capital costs of a stand-alone university at somewhere between $91 and $171 million, a figure that doesn’t include faculty or student housing.

“A joint venture would allow us to increase the number and diversity of degree programs delivered here in Nunavut,” Quassa told the legislature Oct. 19.

“It will provide an opportunity for Nunavut Arctic College and a partner university to share their respective expertise and establish a university in the Canadian Arctic.”

The new committee will meet for the first time Nov. 22 and Nov. 23, Quassa said, a meeting to be co-chaired by the deputy minister of education, Kathy Okpik and Arctic College’s president Joe Kunuk.

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