I’m sure many of you are aware of recent social and media coverage about the financial challenges we are facing as a university. Some of that coverage has gone as far as to suggest that Athabasca University is in danger of closing down, or being taken over by another institution.
I want to reassure every one of you that, while the financial challenges we face are very real, there is no substance to the notion that we are either on the verge of closing, or being taken over by another institution. These rumours have been around for a couple of years now, and they will continue to surface from time to time.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that the university faces financial challenges that have become acute. We are unique among Alberta universities in that we receive only 30% of our operating budget from the province, the lowest of any PSE in Alberta, including two private universities. We are limited by government in how much we can increase tuition, our most important source of revenue. And we face, like all institutions, a decline in the rate of enrolment growth.
So the problem we face is fairly clear. What we, as a university leadership team, are now working on is options, ones which will point to solutions. And while I do not yet know what those solutions may look like, I can say with certainty that closure or amalgamation are not among them.