Yukon College to focus on research, flexible learning

Yukon College launched a three-year strategic plan today. The new document came out of public consultations that took place last year.

Yukon College launched a three-year strategic plan today.

The new document came out of public consultations that took place last year.

The college wants to expand research and make learning more accessible to Yukoners, among other priorities.

One goal is to ensure “that every student that comes to the college will have the opportunity to do some sort of applied research, whether it’s a small classroom project or whether it’s actually working at the research centre in the summer, for example,” said Karen Barnes, president of the college.

For years, the college has been questioning if it should move towards university or quasi-university status, with a greater focus on research.

It already awards degrees in partnership with Outside universities in circumpolar studies, education, environmental science, public administration and social work.

This new strategic plan will not make a final determination on that question.

But whatever the future looks like, there is a commitment to maintain and expand upon the trades and other fundamental college programs, said Barnes.

One of the reasons that this is a three-year plan and not a five-year plan, as the previous one was, is because the government may push the college towards university status, she said.

If that happens, the current plan may see a few tweaks.

The plan calls instead for a “unique post-secondary education model” that is inspired by its northern culture, economy and environment.

In a vast landscape like the Yukon, that could mean delivering more education in home communities, said Barnes.

“One exciting thing about today’s world is that learning doesn’t have to have a physical space. We can do a lot by expanding our programs by technology or by taking things out of Whitehorse and into the communities, or into peoples’ workplaces. I think there’s a whole lot of growth we can do without increasing a lot of space.”

Space has become an issue at the Whitehorse campus, where office space is in short supply and students wait on a list for a spot in residence.

The school already has satellite campuses in 11 Yukon communities.

“One of the things we were hearing from the communities is that they wanted some things that were really job focused and attached to jobs that might exist in their community,” said Barnes. “Knowing that every community is unique, we went and asked them what they wanted. We’ve been able to do cooking in Mayo and small engine repair in Old Crow and introduction to mining in Watson Lake and that’s been really great because it really has engaged people in a more meaningful way.”

The college has developed performance indicators to monitor the success of the plan over the coming years.

More information is available at www.yukoncollege.yk.ca/stratplan/.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at


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