Alberta Mirror

Monday, October 3, 2022

Alberta government wants 65 percent of Athabasca University workers working in town

Alberta

Key takeaways: 

  • University president Peter Scott states the purpose is ‘unachievable.’
  • Athabasca University had intended to move to what it calls ‘near-virtual’ operations. 
  • Alberta’s government wants them to stop that move. 

The local government has informed Athabasca University it must have 500 more teams working in northern Alberta within two years or risk losing some of its public budgets, the university’s president stated.

About one-quarter of the university’s 1,250 workers are now based in Athabasca, Alta., approximately 130 kilometers north of Edmonton.

“I’m concerned that the minister has set [Athabasca University] in an absurd, untenable position,” president Peter Scott said in a video address published online Friday morning.

Scott said that Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides is requesting the university to sign a funding contract including “unachievable” plans and timelines.

Using a new regional performance-based allocation model, the government wants to tie nine percent of Athabasca University’s provincial funding to successfully locate 65 percent of its workers within the city of Athabasca by 2024-25, Scott said.

Read more: Lethal shooting investigation urges police in Alberta to check previous reports 

The local government has informed Athabasca University it must have 500 more teams working in northern Alberta within two years or risk losing some of its public budgets, the university’s president stated

Scott told CBC News that the government’s policy is creating a “huge alarm” among students and staff. Paying to migrate hundreds of staff to Athabasca — if they were ready to move to keep their jobs — would shift millions of dollars away from student programming.

Scott said the government’s policy fails to recall the modern reality of operating a university that remotely educates 40,000 students across Canada and the globe.

“Signing this contract may put the university back 40 years and put it on the path to ruin,” he stated in Friday’s video address. He blamed Nicolaides for “exceptional” meddling with university operations.

Last week, Nicolaides told the university’s council of governors to dump its “near virtual” workplace strategy and offer a new plan by the end of September.

The board has yet to meet to discuss the proposal.

Source – CBC News

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