Quality assurance practices for postsecondary institutions in the Northwest Territories

The postsecondary education system in the Northwest Territories (NWT) is described in CICIC's Postsecondary Education Systems in Canada, Provinces and Territories. The system can be divided into three categories of postsecondary program delivery:
  • colleges
  • apprenticeship
  • private training
Quality assurance mechanisms in the NWT postsecondary education system vary by type of program. They include:
  • legislation (statutes and regulations)
  • affiliation
  • external and internal review
  • professional accreditation
  • other organizations related to quality assurance


The Aurora College Act establishes the only public community college in the NWT. Under the Act, the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) is responsible for postsecondary education. Aurora College is responsible for delivering adult and postsecondary programs, including the delivery of university-level programs and the granting of certificates, diplomas, and prescribed university degrees. The right to deliver university-level programs and grant prescribed university degrees and applied bachelor's degrees has been accorded to Aurora College in the Northwest Territories through legislation. However, all degree programs delivered in Northwest Territories are currently offered through partnerships with educational institutions in other Canadian jurisdictions.

The Act provides the Minister with the authority to establish a Board of Governors for the college. The board is responsible for recommending priorities for programs and courses and college admission requirements to the Minister.

The Board of Governors is required to submit an annual report to the Minister within three months of the end of the fiscal year. The report must state the activities of the college during the fiscal year and include the auditor's report and the financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles applied on a basis consistent with that of the preceding fiscal year. The Minister tables the board's report in the Legislative Assembly.


Aurora College has no affiliations with universities. However, it does have a number of program-specific collaborations and articulation agreements and memoranda of understanding with several universities.

External and Internal Review

Aurora College has policies and procedures for the evaluation of programs and services that are approved by the Board of Governors. Degree, diploma, and certificate programs are internally reviewed following a schedule approved by the Board of Governors. Programs may also undergo external review as deemed necessary by external partners and ECE.

Professional Accreditation

Many of Canada's regulated professions have associations that conduct accreditation reviews of college programs pertaining to their professions. In these instances, accreditation teams from the professions review reports provided by the colleges and may conduct on-site visits in accordance with the policies and procedures established by the professions. For example, the Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut (RNANT/NU) is responsible for nursing education standards in the NWT and for conducting reviews of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the Master of Nursing, Nurse Practitioner Primary Health Care Stream Program at Aurora College.


Apprenticeship training in the NWT comprises a combination of workplace training and educational class instruction. The Apprenticeship, Trade and Occupations Certification Act establishes ECE as the public authority responsible for apprenticeship matters.

The Act establishes the Apprenticeship, Trade and Occupations Certification Board. The Board's main function is to advise the Minister of Education on matters relating to training and the certification of people in designated trades and occupations. In advising the Minister, the Board draws upon the expertise of local Apprenticeship Advisory Committees appointed by the Department's Supervisor of Apprenticeship, Trade, and Occupations Certification.

The regulations under the Act also provide the government with extensive authority to regulate apprenticeship. These regulations address qualifications for apprenticeship, providing examinations, establishing standards for examinations, and providing for inspection of training. The regulations also provide ECE's Supervisor of Apprenticeship, Trade, and Occupations Certification with the authority to establish the contents of and standards for the in-school portion of apprenticeship training, known as the trade instruction courses and examinations. The Supervisor must approve the location of trade instruction courses, the major pieces of equipment used in the instruction, the instructional materials, and the curriculum. The regulation also directly addresses instructor qualifications.

External and Internal Review

The NWT Apprenticeship Program administers all aspects of apprenticeship training within the territory. Apprentices and tradespersons are registered in the program and monitored while gaining experience on the work site. Apprentices attend technical training to fulfill the requirements for certification. Operational reviews are executed through employer satisfaction surveys and board reports. The NWT Apprenticeship Review Board, made up of industry representatives, and government, conducts accreditation reviews for all the trades training at Aurora College.

An Interprovincial Standards "Red Seal" Program promotes and facilitates the standardization of provincial and territorial apprenticeship training, as well as the regular updating of national trades standards in order to reflect the ongoing technological changes taking place in all trades. The Canadian provinces and territories developed the Red Seal program in cooperation with the federal government (Employment and Social Development Canada) to standardize trade skill requirements and provide greater employment mobility throughout Canada. A provincial Certificate of Qualification bearing the Red Seal endorsement provides evidence of meeting the interprovincial standard for certification and is recognized throughout Canada. For employers, the Red Seal is an assurance of quality training and certification to nationally recognized standards.

Other Organizations Related to Quality Assurance in Colleges and Apprenticeship

Aurora College is a member of the Colleges and Institutes Canada. Colleges and Institutes Canada does not perform formal quality assurance functions with respect to its members, but it does promote quality programming and the use of high academic standards by conducting research and facilitating broad discussion on quality assurance issues.


The NWT does not have legislation to register private training institutions. The Minister has a Private Vocational Training Designation (PVTD) Directive and has developed guidelines to ensure compliance by customer institutions, as well as consumer protection. Students have access to a limited amount of private training approved through this Directive and through ECE's Student Financial Assistance (SFA) Program.