Students Deeply Disappointed with Athabasca University Tuition Increase

Tuition is once again going up at Athabasca University (AU) and the Athabasca University Students’ Union (AUSU) is disappointed with the recent increase amidst an ongoing health pandemic and student affordability concerns. The increase in tuition is alongside other fee increases approved by the AU Board of Governors and will bring the total cost of an AU course to $799 for students in Alberta and $1,018 for students outside the province.

The 7% increase in undergraduate tuition lies in stark contrast to the Canadian average increase of 1.7% in 2021 and will represent severe hardship for many learners in the AU community. For a full course load, Statistics Canada reports that Canadian undergraduates pay on average $5,754, while Alberta undergraduates will pay $7,910, including fees. Athabasca University undergraduates from outside of Alberta will be charged $10,100. Students are worried this price gap will put AU enrolment at a competitive disadvantage compared to other schools, which are increasingly offering online and hybrid learning options due to the pandemic. Out-of-province students represent a significant portion of AU’s revenue, and the tuition increase may end up hurting enrolment and revenue, exacerbating the impact of severe cuts from provincial operating funding.

AUSU representatives voted against the third consecutive tuition increase brought to the AU Board of Governors by the administration and was joined by board members from the Athabasca University Graduate Students’ Association (AUGSA) and Athabasca University tutors, to register four votes opposed to the increase.

“This is going to be a huge hardship for many students, and I’m worried we are going to see many students step away from their studies as a result. I hope Athabasca University takes a careful look at the impact of this increase on both students and the institution and chooses to pause further tuition increases next year.”

Stacey Hutchings, AUSU President and Member of AU’s Board of Governors

“I don’t think this is the right move for Athabasca University and it has the potential of hurting the institution and students in the long run. AU prides itself on being an open and accessible education option and this increase doesn’t align with those values.

Natalia Iwanek, AUSU VP Community and Wellness and Member of AU’s Board of Governors