Athabasca University on Path to Long-term Success

Alberta students will have greater access to digital learning and distance education thanks to the Alberta government’s investment in Athabasca University.

With a $4.9-million government grant, Athabasca University will significantly modernize its digital learning environment and upgrade the existing IT infrastructure.

The announcement comes exactly one year after the release of the Coates Report, an independent third-party review of Athabasca University, containing recommendations for the institution’s long-term success.

With this investment and the university’s ongoing commitment to transformation, many recommendations of the Coates Report are being advanced.

“Athabasca University plays an important role in our province’s post-secondary system and is an important part of the Town of Athabasca. I am pleased with the progress made by the university to ensure that the recommendations in the Coates Report are implemented. I know these additional investments will support the university’s long-term success.”

~Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education

“Our Board of Governors has worked very closely with the administration to ensure that Athabasca University is on the path to continued success. We see the future of distance learning as vital to the well-being of Indigenous, northern and remote Albertans, and other Canadians. The clear Imagine strategy our team developed will make world-class post-secondary education accessible to them. Together, with the support of the government, we’ve accomplished a lot in the last year, and the next year will be pivotal.”

~Vivian Manasc, board chair, Athabasca University

“Our families, our jobs, our communities – the most important things in our lives – are changing. AU, Canada’s only open university, allows you to prepare for change, to lead it, no matter who you are or where you live. This generous grant provides AU with the opportunity to fulfil our vision of transforming lives and transforming communities.”

~Neil Fassina, president, Athabasca University

“Athabasca University plays an important and unique role in our province, as the leader in distance learning. AU has given me the ability to attend university when I would not have been able to otherwise. It’s vital that we ensure future generations of Albertans have this same opportunity, and can continue to achieve their educational goals at this institution.”

~Brandon Simmons, president, Athabasca University Students’ Union

Athabasca University continues to address additional recommendations from the Coates Report. The government will continue to work with the institution to ensure Albertans have access to high-quality distance education at the university.

Quick facts

  • The government’s $4.9-million investment in Athabasca University’s future success and sustainability will be used as follows:
    • $1.5 million to implement Imagine: Transforming Lives and Transforming Communities strategic plan.
    • $1.5 million to implement Rise: Athabasca University’s Digital Transformation five-year IT strategy.
    • $1.5 million for planning and development of a student delivery framework.
    • $400,000 for a long-range development plan and for renewal of the teaching and learning framework.
  • The Coates Report was released on June 8, 2017.
  • The report made a number of recommendations, including that Athabasca University:
    • Reaffirm and build on its rich history as an Open University.
    • Better address northern educational needs, capitalize on underdeveloped opportunities and position AU as a leading presence in teaching and research related to the provincial North.
    • Enhance the university’s presence in the Town of Athabasca in alignment with its new academic mission.
    • Improve its service delivery model for students.
    • Redevelop its Information Technology infrastructure.
    • Create a new model of engagement with northern and Indigenous learners and other institutions.