Yukon College won't abandon trades in quest to become university

The president of Yukon College says plans are moving ahead to help the institution evolve into a university. Karen Barnes also said the college will stay committed to vocational training.

'It's this wonderful new environment of mixing all these disciplines,' says college president

The Yukon College Ayamdigut campus in Whitehorse. (facebook)

Yukon College is not about to forget its roots even as it moves to become a university, the school's president says. 

Karen Barnes said the school will continue to offer vocational and technical training even as it incorporates more degree programs.

"It's this wonderful new environment of mixing all of these disciplines," Barnes said. "So we think this is an opportunity to celebrate the vocational programs, and celebrate the technical programs."

Some Yukoners have speculated that the college's recent decision to cut a language training program was part of a move to shed non-university level courses. College officials denied that, saying it was a financial decision. 

Work to be done

Barnes said Yukon College looks for inspiration to other schools in B.C. and Alberta that have made the transition from college to university.

"When you drive onto the [Nanaimo] campus of Vancouver Island University, the first building you see is welding. And it's wonderful. Then you get to the big library," she said.

"Same thing with Thompson Rivers University [in Kamloops, B.C.], they have a big trades building, right across from the law building."

Barnes said there's still a lot of work to be done before the college can be accredited as a university. She said the focus right now is on "quality assurance" — making sure the school meets national standards — and significantly boosting enrolment.

She said it may be four or five more years before the college successfully graduates to a university, but she's convinced it's the right move.

"We're the only institution here, we have to be the place that people aspire to," Barnes said.


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