Aurora College will receive $4 million from the federal and Northwest Territories governments to repair and upgrade its learning centres in three communities.

The money, announced Thursday in Yellowknife, will be spent on the college's learning centres in Lutselk'e, Hay River and Tsiigehtchic. In some caes, the facilities are old and run-down.

The joint federal-territorial funding is part of the federal government's $2-billion Canada Knowledge Infrastructure Program, aimed at upgrading post-secondary institutions, while creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

"We can't compete unless we have the facilities and the modern technology, and that's where this money is being invested," Consevative Senator Daniel Lang of the Yukon told reporters in Yellowknife at Thursday's announcement.

"I think it's a real positive thing for Canada. For our areas, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, like I said, we're going ahead with facilities that ... we wouldn't be able to afford to go ahead with."

N.W.T. Education Minister Jackson Lafferty said he hopes the college upgrades will mark one step towards a larger project — a university in Canda's North.

"I think we've just opened the door, and that's why I'm saying thinking long-term, the possiblity of establishing a university-type [institution] here in the Northwest Territories," Lafferty said.

"That will certainly be one of the goals that we need to work towards."

Tu Nedhe MLA Tom Beaulieu, whose constitutency includes Lutselk'e, said the $1.3 million earmarked for his community's learning centre will help the local economy.

"I think that will give them a much better building, a much better learning environment for the people there that are taking the adult learning and so on," he said.

Beaulieu added that an improved college building could also mean more academic programs on offer there.