Alberta Mirror

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Province threatens budget cuts to Athabasca University over virtual campus project

Alberta

Key takeaways: 

  • The advanced education minister will instruct a new plan by Sept. 30.
  • Athabasca University and the region have sparred over the university’s goals to move to “near-virtual” operations. 

The region has raised the stakes in its conflict with Athabasca University by threatening to remove its monthly operating budget of $3.4 million.

At this point, a university plans to move much of its operations online. Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides told the university failed to comply with orders to dump the plan and bolster its presence in the town of Athabasca. 

“This has resulted in the need for Alberta’s government to take a substantive move,” Nicolaides said in a written statement on Tuesday. 

“Through the tools known to us, we’ve run to Athabasca’s board that the university must end its goal of the near-virtual strategy and deliver a new strategic plan to Advanced Education for acceptance by Sept. 30.

“Failure to comply will lower Athabasca’s future allocation.”

Read more: Defense lawyers intimidate job action over Legal Aid Alberta funding

The region has raised the stakes in its conflict with Athabasca University by threatening to remove its monthly operating budget of $3.4 million

Nicolaides wants the board to mark an updated Investment Management Agreement (IMA) by the end of August.

He sent a letter the prior week to Byron Nelson, chair of AU’s board of governors, summarizing the additions to the IMA.

The board is to lead AU president Peter Scott to dump the move to near-virtual operations, execute a plan to expand the university’s in-person operations at its campus in Athabasca, and deliver the project to the region by the end of September.

The university must assure every member of its executive works full time in Athabasca by March of 2025 and report on how many workers leave each year. 

‘Near-virtual’ operations

The letter from Nicolaides is the latest salvo in a war between the university and the region that began in 2020 when members of the board of governors agreed on a plan to move to what it called “near-virtual” operations. 

Source – CBC News

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