N.W.T.'s Aurora College says online videos are spreading misinformation

The Thebacha campus of Aurora College in Fort Smith, N.W.T. (Julie Plourde/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Thebacha campus of Aurora College in Fort Smith, N.W.T. (Julie Plourde/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Videos and social media posts suggesting N.W.T.'s Aurora College is among the cheapest in Canada are believed to be behind the deluge of international applications that recently flooded the institution.

The chair of the college's board of directors previously told CBC News that international agencies that help students find placements were directing too many students to apply and that's why the college had received hundreds more applications than usual.

Sarah Tilley, the vice president of student affairs with Aurora College, says she believes most of the applications came from social media and YouTube videos spreading misinformation. She refers specifically to a video from YouTuber Chorkor Millionaire, first reported by Cabin Radio.

She said the applications seem to be coming from the "regions" that Chorkor Millionaire has indicated is his audience. The YouTuber's bio says he is from Accra, Ghana.

The video went up on July 26. Meanwhile, Tilley said the College began receiving more inquiries in July.

"But then once our program applications opened, then it really became a flood," she said.

"Within 24 hours, we had over 1,200 applications."

Tilley said they're still working through how many of those are international compared to domestic but said the vast majority are international.

Jayne Murray, manager of communications and college relations with Aurora, says she's seen probably eight to 10 videos with misinformation about Aurora College. That includes one that conflates the N.W.T.'s Aurora College with an Aurora University in Colorado. Adding to the confusion, there appears to be an Aurora University in Illinois and a separate University of Colorado in Aurora, Colorado.

But, Murray said, most of the college's applicants seem to be coming from the Chorkor Millionaire video.

Videos 'take a bit of a life of their own'

In that video, Chorkor Millionaire indicates that Aurora College provides an opportunity for scholarships of up to 80 per cent of tuition fees. Tilley said that was taken out of context. She said that while that can be the case for some Northern students, international students would never get that kind of subsidy.

"I think it's hard with social media because things do take a bit of a life of their own," she said.

"However, I know our communications division has been making sure that in any communications they've had with international inquiries that they are including that, you know, there is misinformation out there."

Tilley says that In the college's social media, on their website and in their emails with the international applicants, the college is reminding people to make sure their information is coming from authorized sources.

She says that admissions officers go through each application to check if there are missing documents, acknowledge receipt and advise the candidate on any necessary next steps. She says the pause on international applications is to go through the applications they've received and respond to as many of them as they can.

Tilley said they could reopen to international applicants if there are still spots available, but there is no date on when that could be.