WHL and Athabasca University Announce Education Partnership

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Edmonton, AB – The Western Hockey League and Athabasca University announced today they have entered into a new partnership which will improve access WHL players have to university level courses while playing in WHL centres throughout Western Canada and Northwestern United States.

New Partnership Created

Under the new partnership, Athabasca University will offer, through online and other distance education vehicles, fully accredited university courses to any WHL player interested in further pursuing post-secondary studies while playing in the WHL. Given the flexibility the Athabasca University courses provide, WHL players will be able to combine their university course studies with a demanding hockey schedule. As part of the comprehensive WHL Education and Scholarship program offered to all WHL players, WHL Clubs will cover the cost of the post-secondary courses offered by Athabasca University.

Removing Barrier for Athletes

The new partnership brings together two Alberta-based organizations fully committed to offering the highest standard of university courses through a flexible learning model. For close to 40 years, Athabasca University has been Canada’s leading provider of online and distance university education. Athabasca University, which currently serves of 37,000 students worldwide, is committed to the removal of barriers for students interested in attaining a University education. The WHL is the leading provider of hockey scholarships in Western Canada, awarding over 400 scholarships each year to current and graduate players. The WHL, a leading supplier of talent to the National Hockey League, provides the top young prospects in the West the opportunity to play at the highest level in the system without compromising their academic goals.

“The WHL and Member Clubs are fully committed to ensuring all of our players have access to post-secondary courses while playing in the WHL,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison, “Our new agreement will provide WHL players with improved access to fully accredited university courses delivered online through Athabasca university. This new mobile education initiative will allow us to remove any obstacle for players who wish to take university courses while playing in the WHL.”

Lori van Rooijen, Vice President, Advancement at Athabasca University says the partnership with the WHL is a perfect fit with the goals of the University, which prides itself on distance learning post-secondary education, a challenge many professional athletes who spend many days on the road face.

“Traditional universities and colleges have fixed classrooms and fixed schedules. It’s often extremely difficult for professors to adapt to a player’s schedule,” said van Rooijen, “We don’t have that problem here.”
Athabasca University is the only Canadian public university accredited in the United States. This international accreditation will provide WHL players, playing in any of the U.S. based WHL Clubs, the opportunity to access Canadian university accredited courses.

About Athabasca University

Athabasca University is one of the world’s foremost and fastest growing distance and e-learning centres. Athabasca University serves over 38,000 graduate and undergraduate students and offers more than 700 courses in 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees, diploma and certificate programs. Athabasca University is a publicly funded, comprehensive university which reports to the Government of Alberta through the Ministry of Advanced Education and Technology. Athabasca University has more than 350 articulation agreements with other post-secondary institutions which allows students to easily transfer course credits.

About the Western Hockey League

The Western Hockey League is comprised of 22 member clubs based throughout Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The WHL is regarded as one of the finest development Leagues in the world today and continues to be a leading supplier of talent to the NHL and Canada’s national teams. The WHL allows players the opportunity to reach their full potential on and off the ice, awarding over 400 WHL post-secondary scholarships each year to players looking to further their education. The WHL are members of the Canadian Hockey League, together with the Quebec and Ontario Hockey Leagues.