GN awards contract for Nunavut university feasibility study

Study will look at option of a standalone university or an expanded NAC

By SARAH ROGERS

The GN just contracted a firm to prepare a feasibility study on creating a new university in Nunavut or expanding Nunavut Arctic College's university-level course offerings. Pictured is NAC's trades school in Rankin Inlet, which opened in 2010. (FILE PHOTO)


The GN just contracted a firm to prepare a feasibility study on creating a new university in Nunavut or expanding Nunavut Arctic College’s university-level course offerings. Pictured is NAC’s trades school in Rankin Inlet, which opened in 2010. (FILE PHOTO)

The Government of Nunavut is moving forward with a feasibility study to explore the possibility of a territorial university.

The GN awarded a contract Oct. 28 to a Toronto-based firm called KPMG LLP, whose job it will be to determine if there are “adequate resources and market potential” in Nunavut to create its first university.

KPMG LLP, which specializes in auditing and advisory services, was awarded $246,260 to prepare the study, described in a GN Request For Proposals issued in early September.

The feasibility study will look at the potential for a standalone university in the territory, but also the possibility of investing resources into the existing Nunavut Arctic College to offer more university-level courses or degrees, the RFP said.

In either scenario, the study is expected to outline:

• the institution’s capital and operating costs;

• potential funding sources;

• legislative requirements to establish a university; and,

• a potential physical location for the university.

Nunavut’s legislative assembly committed to a feasibility study earlier this year, when the Commissioner of Nunavut, Nellie Kusugak, outlined new projects at the opening of the June session of the legislature.

“The purpose is to enable access to higher education at home that represents our diverse land,” Kusugak told the assembly.

Although there have been periodic discussions over the years around the creation of a Nunavut university, Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. injected new energy into the debate in 2014 when the company said it would donate $5 million towards a new brick-and-mortar university in the territory.

But the GN has tempered that enthusiasm, noting the project would require major support, not only from industry but from different levels of government as well as Inuit organizations.

Results of this latest study will form part of the basis for the GN’s policy on the creation of a university, or some other body that will offer university-level courses, the RFP said.

The study’s authors will also have to consider the cost and challenges of attracting professors and instructors to teach at such an institution, and projections for the post-secondary student market over the next decade, the RFP noted in its requirements.

In its time frame, the RFP specifies that the study’s final report should be completed by March 31, 2016, with work starting “as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, Nunavummiut currently have some post secondary options: Nunavut Arctic College and the Ottawa-based Nunavut Sivuniksavut college.

Neither of those institutions offer full degree programs within Nunavut, however.

The Akitsiraq Law School offered a law degree program several years ago and talks are under way to offer a possible second round in a couple of years.

Currently, there is no brick-and-mortar university in any of Canada’s three territories.

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