The University of the Arctic will be forced to cut back its programs in Canada – and across the arctic region – due to a recent decision by the Canadian government to cut the funding to the university by 75 per cent.
UArctic is a multi-national cooperative network of universities, colleges and institutions promoting research and education in the north. Canadian funding to UArctic has been cut to approximately $150,000 from over $700,000.
Federal funding for UArctic has been conditional on the northern territories providing additional funding, which they have not done. Territories have instead spent the money on their own colleges, such as Yukon College, Aurora College, and Nunavut Arctic College.
A spokesperson for the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, an organisation focusing on improving governance in the Arctic, said, “There are severe issues with how resources are shared between territorial and federal governments.”
“[UArctic] doesn’t really fill the needs of the northern youth,” he explained.
UArctic does not grant degrees itself. Instead, it runs programs through over 140 colleges and universities in countries in and around the polar region.
Since its start in 2001, over 10,000 students have enrolled in a UArctic program.
Of the 140 institutions who are members of UArctic, more than thirty are in Canada. A three-quarter cut in UArctic’s Canadian government funding would reduce the services available to Canadian students, though it is still unclear exactly what form the reduction in services will take.
A decision has already been made to move the undergraduate office from the University of Saskatchewan to the Northeastern Federal University in Yakutsk, Russia.
In a statement released on its website, UArctic assures Canadian students that “UArctic has already taken steps, however, to ensure the continuity of service of programs.”
These programs include the Circumpolar Studies program, which focuses on the people and issues of the arctic region, and the north2north program, which is an exchange program between northern communities.
These programs are designed to “empower the residents of the Circumpolar North, by building human capital through higher education,” according to UArctic’s mission statement.
Lars Kullerud, president of UArctic, is hopeful that the Canadian government will be convinced to continue its funding. In a statement released on the UArctic website, he comments, “Our Canadian members remain committed with their own resources to continue to be strong partners in this work while we wait for a resolution of the funding impasse in Canada.”