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First made-in-Yukon college degree focuses on Indigenous governance

The school has been given a stamp of approval to offer its own degree programs — another step towards making the institution a full-fledged university.

Promoting Indigenous self-determination in the territory a priority, says college president

Representatives from the Campus Alberta Quality Council (CAQC) visited the college's Whitehorse campus last June, to assess the school's readiness to grant degrees. The school hopes to offer its own first degree program starting next year. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

Yukon College has been given a stamp of approval to offer its own undergraduate degree programs — independent of other institutions  —  marking another step toward becoming a full-fledged university.

"This is really about the students, and making sure that they are going to have every opportunity that we can possibly provide to them," said college president Karen Barnes.

"And that's really making sure it's a quality, quality institution."

Representatives from the Campus Alberta Quality Council (CAQC) visited the Whitehorse campus last June, to assess the school's readiness to grant degrees. It's now given the thumbs-up.

"It's almost like a seal of approval that you put on the website, and so everybody can see it, and everybody can see that we met the standard," Barnes said.

"That means that our students will have exactly the same opportunities as every university student across this country."

The plan is to offer a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance program, beginning next year. It would be adapted from the school's current certificate program. The CAQC is now evaluating the proposed degree program — a final step in the approval process. 

After that, Barnes said, the school hopes to develop degree programs in business (focused on the North), and Northern Studies.

According to Yukon College, the CAQC approval marks the first time a post-secondary institution has been evaluated to offer its own degree programs, north of 60.

The college already has university degree programs in social work and education that are offered in partnership with the University of Regina, and a science degree in partnership with University of Alberta.

Students can also take some two-year diploma programs and then transfer to years three and four of a degree offered at a university in the south.  

The college's long-term plan is to become a university.

With files from Dave Croft

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