Exec Blog: September 2015

Recently there has been a lot of media attention surrounding AU’s task force on sustainability. With the release of the task force report, many were concerned that AU would have to close its doors. However, with all the doom and gloom of recent, AUSU Executives are happy to report that progress is being made towards a more sustainable university.

The AUSU executive team was able to recently meet with AU Executives including Dr. Peter McKinnon (AU Interim President) and Estelle Lo (AU Vice President, Finance and Administration). In these meetings, we discussed the task force report as well as the Alberta Tuition Freeze. As we discussed the impacts and actions being taken in regards to these issues, we learned that AU has had a short term win.

AU had planned to increase tuition by $13 per 3 credit course prior to the tuition freeze being released. Our concern was that with the tuition freeze in place, how would AU be able to cover costs over the next two years? When we asked this question we learned that Bill 3, which deals with the tuition freeze, not only compensates AU for the loss of tuition for Alberta students but it also includes provisions that increased the Campus Alberta Grant. The AU executives expressed that this is a short term win for AU as they have been able to receive some additional funding to help support them over the next two years.

Along with the recent short term increase to AU funding, we learned that steps are being taken to follow the recommendations set out by the sustainability task force. Currently, AU is beginning the process of an audit of their business cycle to see how it can be made more efficient to cut down on costs. Along with this, Dr. Peter McKinnon was able talk about his advocacy efforts in regards to the need for change in the government funding model. Dr. McKinnon described how some days it feels as if he works in a government office because he is in so many meetings with government officials.

Throughout the course of our meetings it was apparent that Dr. McKinnon had been working hard to build relationships and trying to help the government understand the unique role that AU plays in the world of post-secondary education. There is still much work that needs to be done, but AUSU and AU executives have agreed that we need to be unified and work together in advocating for changes to be made in funding. Together we will advocate for change so that AU can continue its mission to work towards “the removal of barriers that restrict access to and success in university level study…”

Brandon Simmons
AUSU VP Finance and Administration