The colleges, also members of the University of the Arctic, are now seeking a financial commitment from the federal government, Yukon College president Terry Weninger said Tuesday.

"We have been waffling around with this concept for a number of years," Weninger told CBC News. "We need to have the knowledge — the security, if you want — that this thing can move forward with some sort of secure base funding. Otherwise, it's going to flounder."

Canada is currently the other circumpolar nation without a northern university, Weninger said.

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean publicly endorsed the idea during her tour of Nunavut last month, saying it would help Inuit and other northerners earn a post-secondary education without having to move far from home.

Jean has said a northern Canadian university could be modelled on the world's current northernmost university, located in Tromso, Norway.

The colleges' proposal for a university would cost $2.5 million, Weninger estimated.

He added that the institution would be anchored by the existing colleges and their programs.

"Like, we already spend millions. Our government and the governments of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut already spend millions on university-level education," he said. "So it's not that we're not investing in post-secondary education. But this would give us, if you want, a university presence that's pan-northern."

Weninger said he's expecting an official response from Ottawa in the next few weeks.

Source: CBC News Online. Original location: