Students enrol in record numbers at Nunavut’s college
Nunavut Arctic College is doing more with more, as students reap the benefits of Ottawa’s $39.9 milliion contribution to Nunavut-related training.
IQALUIT — The drive to prepare candidates for the new territory’s civil service helped boost enrolment at Nunavut Arctic College by nearly 25 per cent last year.
The community college, with regional campuses in Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay, reported an increase of 169 full-time, and 126 part-time students for the semester ending Dec. 31 1997, pushing its overall enrolment to 1,485.
College officials predict enrolment figures to increase again in 1998 by another 15 per cent, as Inuit beneficiaries sign up for a range of new and expanded programs funded by the Nunavut Human Resource Development Strategy.
The $39 million federal job training fund was established in late 1996 to ensure that sufficient numbers of Inuit will be ready by division to take on jobs at all levels in the new Nunavut government.
Nunavut planners are striving to reach 50 per cent Inuit employment in the public service by April 1999, as recommended in the Nunavut Implementaion Commission’s Footprints 2 report.
Eleven new programs
The college has so far received the bulk of the funding, used to develop 11 new programs and to expand courses at community learning centres.
“Because of the funding that came in we were able to offer those existing programs in more locations,” said Ian Rose, the college’s director of policy and programs.
“For example, as well as the base-funded portion in Rankin, the strategy allows us to run management studies programs in Igloolik and Kugluktuk.”
About $25 million of the NHRDS money is expected to be funneled through Nunavut Arctic College by 2000, when the current job-training strategy expires.
The college is offering 19 different programs in 15 communities this academic year, with 269 full-time and 304 part-time students enrolled in NHRDS-sponsored courses.
Course offerings include four basic skills programs aimed at preparing students for entry into diploma level studies, as well as certificate and diploma programs in management studies, adult education, computer operation, human resources, financial management, science and technology and legal studies.
Though all graduating students will meet the requirements for entry-level jobs within the new government, whether or not they choose to join the civil service is a different matter.
“They’re not all going to work at the Nunavut government, but if the new government has 600 positions to fill, it looks like we’re getting a match in terms of the numbers,” college president Greg Welch said.
Strong student interest
Student interest in the college’s new financial management diploma program proved to be the surprise success of the semester.
The two-year program is designed to permit students to fulfil about half the professional requirements set forth by the Certified General Accountants (CGA) Association of Canada.
“When we were designing this my initial worry was that there were going to be some real problems with this one, and I thought enrolment levels would be low,” Rose said.
His concerns were unfounded: “Currently, there are six full-time students and 40 part-time students. This has exceeced what we ever thought we’d get.”
Even with student rolls brimming, the Nunavut government will likely find itself in stiff competition with Inuit land claims organizations and the private sector for many graduates, especially those who are following the college’s computer specialist program.
“This is an area where the supply does not meet the demand,” Welch said.
Interest in a new executive Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) program, which the college has recently arranged to offer in conjunction with St Mary’s University of Nova Scotia, also exceeded expectations.
Though the MBA program only received final approval last December, the college has received more applications for admission to the program than it has room for.