Independent Report Charts Sustainable Future for University

ATHABASCA, AB, June 8, 2017 /CNW/ - Today, the report of the Independent Third Party Review of Athabasca University was released, pointing to a bright future for Athabasca University. For almost 50 years, Canada's Open University has provided access to post-secondary education to Albertans. The third-party report highlights the need to provide increased learner access, and to resume Athabasca University's leadership position in online and distance education in a changing world. This review of the university's operations was conducted by Dr. Ken Coates, a noted academic consultant retained by the Alberta Government and the university's Board of Governors.

The Chair of the Board of Governors of Athabasca University and the Minister of Advanced Education have accepted the report and the approach to develop a renewal plan for Athabasca University. The university will begin working on plans and implementation over the next couple of months. Board Chair Vivian Manasc says the report represents an opportunity for a new beginning for the university.

"Dr. Coates' report has re-affirmed the importance of the university's core mission to be open to all students regardless of where they live or their place in society," she says. "And it challenges the government and the university to work together to support the future of distance learning. The university administration and president will have the board's full support as they implement the recommendations in the report."

"Our government will continue to work with Athabasca University as it improves operations, supports students, and builds partnerships with northern and Indigenous communities. We are pleased with the recommendations and look forward to the practical changes the university will be pursuing in order to support students across Alberta and strengthen our post-secondary system as a whole," said Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including:

  • 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.
  • Re-develop its Information Technology infrastructure.
  • Create a new model of engagement with northern and Indigenous learners and other institutions

The report also says the university should become the leading Canadian centre for online learning and 21st century educational technology. In the report, Dr. Coates says the university has the educational professionals needed to provide the leadership and to experiment with and test new ideas in an area of emerging national priority. The Independent Third Party Review of Athabasca University was announced in January amid questions about the university's finances and long-term sustainability. The university serves more than 40,000 students in 89 countries worldwide.

Dr. Ken Coates' report of the Independent Third Party Review of Athabasca University is available at

SOURCE Athabasca University

For further information: John O'Brien, Director of Communications, Athabasca University, 403-298-2931 (office), 403-990-1131 (cell),; Benjamin Lof, Press Secretary, Alberta Advanced Education, 780-644-1007 (office), 587-985-3591,


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