Frequently Asked Questions

In October 2018, the Government of the Northwest Territories committed to transforming Aurora College into a polytechnic university. 

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about the decision to transform and the transformation process:

Why are we transforming Aurora College into a polytechnic university?

Following an independent review of Aurora College it was determined that transforming into a polytechnic university will better meet the employment and labour market needs of NWT residents and employers, both now and in the future. This is a journey that begins with strengthening the College and planning for change.

What is a polytechnic university?

A polytechnic university is a post-secondary institution that offers a full range of flexible programming from upgrading, certificate, trades, diploma to degrees.

A polytechnic university is also more hands-on or applied learning, but provides the range of learning and research opportunities offered at a university. In addition to regular classroom teaching methods, there are also more practical learning opportunities like hands-on projects, group work, lab and simulator experience, on the land experiences, and on the job training. This applied learning approach means that Indigenous knowledge and ways of learning will have more prominence than at a regular university.

Why do we need a polytechnic university in the NWT?

A Northern polytechnic university, built for the North, by the North, will better prepare residents to be first in line for the jobs that we know are going to be needed today and in the future.  We know that 78 per cent of those jobs will need someone with a post-secondary education.  So, it’s important that Northerners are prepared to be first in line for those jobs.

Who will benefit? How?

A polytechnic university offers the benefits of a college and a university, and creates more opportunities for Northerners by offering a wide range of programming and learning experiences inside the NWT.  In addition, it will be an institution focused on Northern issues in its teaching and research.

The polytechnic will meet learners “where they are”, this means that prospective students can expect to be supported no matter where they are in their education journey.

Where will it be located?

The polytechnic university will operate as it does now at campuses in Fort Smith, Inuvik and Yellowknife, as well as through its network of community learning centres. 

What programs will be offered?

We don’t know what programs will be offered yet, however we do know that they will fall under the four areas of specialization. We also know that the polytechnic university will build on many of the programs currently offered by Aurora College, while at this same time making these programs stronger and accessible to more residents.

The four areas of specialization are: 

  • Skilled Trades and Technology
  • Earth Resources and Environmental Management
  • Northern Health, Education and Community Services
  • Business and Leadership

How and when will Aurora College transform into a polytechnic university?

The transformation of Aurora College into a polytechnic university will take place over approximately six years starting in the fall of 2018.  Visit the TIMELINE that shows the most important things that need to happen in order for the transformation to stay on track.  It’s really important that things are done in the right order and at the right time.   

The transformation has three stages:

  • Phase 1: Strengthen the foundation of Aurora College and put processes and systems in place in order to make the change to a polytechnic university.
  • Phase 2: Transformation – make the changes that will allow the College to become a university.
  • Phase 3: Launch the polytechnic university – This final stage will begin with the passing of a polytechnic university act and will include the establishment of an Academic Senate, and a five year strategic plan. 

The transformation will be complete when all of the GNWT commitments have been met. Track our progress HERE.