April Executive Blog

“Thank you for your patience.  Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”

Do you hate waiting?  I know I do.

It seems we are living in a “right now” society, where everything we want can usually be found at the tip of our fingers.  Waiting has become something we are less and less used to.  Our society has evolved in a very short period of time into one where waiting is not only inconvenient, it’s unacceptable.

Don’t want to stand in line at the grocery store? Shop online in advance, pick up in the parking lot.

Don’t want to wait at the pharmacy? Have your RX delivered to your door.

Don’t want to stand in the line at the bank?  Take a picture of your cheque and deposit it from your phone.

Don’t want to wait 7-8 business days for your assignment to be graded?  Wait….. you’re out of luck.

As students of Athabasca University, we are tech savvy, industrious and independent.  We are accustomed to working independently to fulfill the requirements of our courses, at our own pace, on our own time.  If you are wondering how to infuriate someone with those attributes; try making them wait 8 business days for a grade on an assignment, or 2 business days for an answer to their question.  Then get your popcorn, sit back and wait to see what happens when they don’t receive a response within that published service standard.

Recently, I’ve noted some heightened frustration from students who have reported a lapse in the service standard for assignment marking.  I experienced this personally last month when my tutor told me that they couldn’t return my assignment earlier than 13 business days because their computer wouldn’t connect to the internet!  I’ve read social media posts from a student who waited for weeks for a response only to find that their tutor had resigned weeks ago and another who had to send 8 emails to their tutor before finally getting an answer to their question.  I can honestly say that personally, as a student, there is nothing that takes the wind out of my sails like having to wait for an answer or a grade, in particular past the timeline that AU promises.

According to the Athabasca University webpage here, students can “expect the best”.

In November of 2015, I wrote a blog post which highlighted my concerns about AU’s commitment to uphold service standards and the work I was doing to create awareness in an effort to ensure AU Service Standards are met.  Since then, I have continued to ask questions and raise awareness of the fact that marking times and responses to questions are too often not within the published service standard.  This affects student success and student satisfaction.

The standard of 7-8 business day marking turnaround time must be shortened.  As a student, I do my best and I also expect the best from my University.  In setting a standard of 7-8 business days, that is not the best AU can do.  Why not set the standard at 3 business days?  It might not be as immediate as we are used to in today’s society but a response within the same week would be a good start.  The next step is to make sure the standard is met, and it’s time to increase accountability.

As a student, what should you do if you’re stuck waiting beyond the published service standard?

Contact and let them know.

Contact your course coordinator and let them know.

If needed, contact AU’s Ombud Office and let them know.

Shawna Wasylyshyn
AUSU President