Northlands College. Photo courtesy

The end of one northern education program and the expansion of another is putting a strain on relations and student housing needs in the north.

The chair of the NORTEP Council says the student apartments it owns in La Ronge are open for bids, but Raymond Laliberte says turning them over to Northlands College is not an option at this time.

“They may at some point be on the table for consideration, but not at this point,” he said. “I think the interim concern of the students has been taken care of, and we’ve got some to consider how we are going to move.”

Laliberte says NORTEP has drawn up a set of criteria for bidders, one that would preferably involve First Nations ownership. He says in the meantime, Sask. Housing, through Lac La Ronge Housing, will take over the apartments under a six-month property management agreement.

“They will be allowing all students to rent from them for the term they will be operating and maintaining it on behalf of NORTEP,” he said. “But in the meantime, we will have a call for proposals with a list of criteria that we require for bidding.”

NORTEP  is disposing of its assets after the government ended funding for the program and transferred  it to Northlands College in La Ronge.

This week, Northlands College announced free tuition and books for former NORTEP students, as well as living allowances for fourth-year students. However, President Toby Greschner, says without owning the apartments, Northlands is at its financial limits for student supports.

NORTEP owns 64 student apartments in La Ronge. Fifty-one students from the former NORTEP program are transferring to Northlands, which has received a total of 325 student applications for university programs this year, up about 35 per cent from last year.

Greschner says he hopes whatever decision NORTEP comes up, it puts the interests of the students first.