Athabasca University has enjoyed collaborative arrangements with a number of post-secondary institutions, primarily colleges, for many years. These partnerships have enabled students to access a university education in a grouped study, face-to-face environment in both rural and urban areas.
However, enrolment in grouped study has declined over the past few years, resulting in cancelation of classes when registration numbers are low and fewer choices for AU students who are completing their degrees. There are increasing administrative and financial pressures associated with running grouped study operations at geographically dispersed locations. These include costly duplication of processes, increased workload for staff and loss of tuition revenue.
Transition from grouped study to individualized online study
Discussions between AU and our partners over the past months have resulted in agreements to provide a transition year for our currently-enrolled students at Grande Prairie Regional College, Lethbridge, Lakeland and Bow Valley Colleges.
As a result of conversations with MacEwan University, we will be providing AU students, at this partner location, the opportunity to complete their degrees through individualized study starting in June 2016.
The immediate benefits of online study
The transition to individualized online study provides students with a range of benefits including:
• greater choice of courses to complete degree requirements
• the flexibility to start courses monthly, from any location
• strong academic and student support provided by AU tutors, academic experts and advisors.
AU values its special relationship with our partners, a relationship developed through longstanding collaboration. We hope that over the next year we can renew all our partnerships in a form adapted to the academic and business processes of our respective institutions and the academic needs of students.
Pathways to degree completion
AU Advising Services is working with our program students to identify pathways for degree completion. The Faculty of Business Student Support Centre will work with undergraduate business program students to provide support through this transition and pathways to earning undergraduate degrees through the faculty.
Communication with students has taken place at three partner locations and will continue, in alignment with our partners at additional locations, over the coming two weeks.
Upcoming informational webinars
Online webinars for AU students at partner locations have been scheduled for April and May, and others will occur throughout the academic year. AU program students affected by this transition have been invited, through email, to attend an online webinar. We want to ensure that AU students have the information and support they need in order to complete their degrees.
The webinars will include
- information about changes to AU course delivery at partner sites
- information about AU student support services
- introduction to individualized online study
- opportunities to ask questions