How would a tuition increase at Athabasca University Impact You?

Tuition is likely to increase at Athabasca University next year despite student opposition. Tuition rose at every Alberta university this year and looks likely to happen again at Athabasca University, despite strong opposition by AUSU at meetings with the university and at the Board of Governors throughout the fall and into the new year.

The Government of Alberta changed the rules last year to allow for three years of tuition increases at 7% each year. Tuition increases paid by Alberta residents at universities used to be frozen but starting in 2020 the Government of Alberta announced that universities could raise tuition up to 7% per year until 2022, after which it will be limited to inflation. Tuition increases paid by international students and out-of-province students at Athabasca University were never subject to such limits and both have risen over the past few years.

The Government of Alberta drastically cut university funding at Alberta universities, including Athabasca University, starting in 2019. The Government of Alberta cut funding to universities and colleges by $234 million cumulatively since 2019, with additional cuts being planned for the next budget in 2021. The Government of Alberta has called on all institutions to look to tuition to help cover that gap in funding, while at the same time has also increased interest rates on student loans, cut tuition tax credits, and cut student job programs.

Athabasca University will likely decide in January how much to increase tuition for September 2021. The Board of Governors at Athabasca University has to approve any tuition increase at the institution and will likely do so at their January 2021 meeting before the budget for 2021/22 is determined. No numbers have been provided to AUSU yet, but we are worried the institution will seek the maximum possible increase of 7%.


How much is tuition going up Athabasca University?

Tuition for Alberta residents could go up as much as 7%, and there is no strict limit on increases to out-of-province and international students although last year those also saw 7% increases along with Alberta residents. Tuition will also be allowed to go up by up to 7% in 2022 as well.

Where is the additional money going?

Athabasca University is using increased tuition revenues to cover the budget deficit, which includes investments in a new integrated learning environment and other initiatives.

Why do out-of-province students pay so much more?

Athabasca University is given an exemption for out-of-province students to allow them to be charged more for the same credit as Alberta students – which is intended to cover in part the difference in operating funding provided to Athabasca University by the government compared to other schools. In fact, Athabasca University receives less government funding per student than any other university in Alberta.

Who is responsible for the tuition increase?

The AU Board of Governors formally is responsible for approving the increase, but the proposal comes from Athabasca University’s senior administration and is a direct result of budget and policy choices by the Government of Alberta.

What is AUSU doing about the increase?

Athabasca University has been consulting with AUSU on a proposed increase. Every step along the way, AUSU has argued against the need for an increase and emphasized the impact of such an increase on our members, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. AUSU has also advocated to the Government of Alberta to take another look at budgetary decisions that led to the increases and will be engaging in ongoing advocacy on this topic.

How much would a 7% tuition increase impact your ability to study at Athabasca University?

UPDATE: On December 17, 2020, AUSU posted a poll asking the above question on our website. We also posted a poll in our January 8, 2021 e-newsletter. As of January 22, 2021, the poll received 1,983 responses, with 87% of students indicating a tuition increase would have a significant ability to study at Athabasca University. The chart below shows the combined results.

If you have any questions, please contact the AUSU President, Stacey Hutchings, at

11 replies on “How would a tuition increase at Athabasca University Impact You?”

The tuition has already just gone up?! People already cannot afford your prices for classes you’re ultimately teaching yourself. Will be considering going elsewhere if these outrageous prices continue to increase.

If they increase tuition again, it would mean I am financially unable to complete my degree. At almost $1000 a course now I can’t afford much more than that.
Why another tuition hike for an online university? There are no large buildings or campus to maintain? Starting to get a bit ridiculous.

I went to Memorial university and paid significantly less than I am currently paying. I did 4 courses, on campus, with actual professors instead of tutors who will reply whenever they feel like it. Even after buying my textbooks and lab supplies at MUN, I paid less than I did this semester at AU doing 3 courses.
Don’t see why they need to increase an already ridiculously expensive tuition especially considering most courses don’t even provide lectures.

Athabasca University has made some dramatic changes in the past decade following financial difficulties and in AUSU’s view is now a stable and sustainable institution, with or without tuition increases. There have been funding cuts from the Government of Alberta but we wish the institution was looking to holding the line on tuition increases. You can find up to date financial information on the institution at Athabasca University Financial Services and in our conversations with Athabasca University, they have suggested the goal with the tuition increase is to break even in their annual budget.

Soooo glad I paid for my last university course. I started my degree in 2015 when fees were 600; now at 1000, I too, wonder why the increase. With professors being contracted out and many without tenure, who really benefits?? Many courses use old materials. This is an online university with a small brick and mortar footprint – electronic books and communication. And I still have to use a fax to communicate changes with the registrar – no electronic document signing. Enrol more students for more funds – stop gouging them!

What I cannot comprehend is why tuition is increasing at a rate beyond inflation.

Also I think as “Canada’s Online University” charging $200 more per course for out of province students in unfair.

Why should someone face more barriers to education just because of the province in which they reside is separated by a provincial boundary?

I might have to find a different online university in BC because as it is I am not working due to physical disabilities and COVID and my husband is patting my tuition and the only one working right now so it’s getting expensive

“You can find up to date financial information on the institution at Athabasca University Financial Service…”

Where do I find this information?

How much are the administrators salaries being cut? Obviously, as students get gouged, salaries at the highest levels get trimmed, right?

Increasing the fees in the middle of a global pandemic is not the solution! many people have been affected. Now, AU decided to increase the fees while Canadians can’t afford it.

Thanks for the inquiries and comments! Your feedback is really valuable, and we completely agree that it’s really unfortunate these fees were increased during a pandemic when so many people are already struggling financially.

To find the AU Financial Reports, visit their website at

Questions about Athabasca University finances and salaries should be directed to AU itself.