Following years of declining enrolment numbers and the gradual withdrawal of partner colleges, Yukon College has pulled the plug — for now — on its only information technology program.
The college announced it has ceased accepting students for its one-year computer support technician certificate program as it conducts a review on “how the program can better meet the needs of students and industry.”
The program was originally launched in 2007 as a two-year-long, fully-online diploma collaboratively offered by five northern colleges but, as the number of students started to dwindle, partner colleges started to pull out, taking with them their resources and faculty.
In 2014, the college that offered the majority of diploma-level courses withdrew from the collaboration, leaving behind only Yukon College and the College of New Caledonia (CNC). The program was then revamped into a one-year certificate, but CNC withdrew last year.
Yukon College stopped accepting students in the 2017-2018 academic year but continued teaching courses to allow the four students already enrolled in the program to complete their studies.
One of those students was scheduled to graduate this week.
In a phone interview, School of Business and Leadership chair Rodney Hulstein said that the college’s review of the program, which has been ongoing since last year, will include getting feedback from faculty, looking at how courses are taught and examining success rates and whether the program fits current industry needs.
“It’s kind of the full 360-view of the program,” Hulstein said, explaining that the results of the review, which are expected in “early summer,” will shape the future — if any — of the college’s IT offerings.
Hulstein said he hopes the review determines if any part of the program has been contributing to the declining enrolment. Some contributing factors may include the fact that online courses, in general, have lower retention rates than in-class courses, that employers are looking for graduates with at least a diploma-level education and that the “dot com bubble,” which was huge when the program originally launched, has slowly deflated.
“Before we go off and develop a new program, is it just going to have low enrolment as well? We need to understand why this is happening and (if) this is something that the territory needs,” Hulstein said. “And if it is, what does it look like? So I’d like to spend more time on doing maybe a more thorough needs assessment and to determine, if we do create something, are we going to have students to populate this program? Is this what the territory needs?”
Hulstein added that “anything is possible at this point,” from scrapping the program altogether or finding another way to revamp it.
“I don’t want to lose programming in this area, because otherwise the territory will not have a computer studies, an IT-related program, which may or may not be a concern to folks out there,” he said.
Anyone with feedback on the program can contact Hulstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Jackie Hong at email@example.com