The following frequently asked questions pertain to AUSU, the AU Students’ Union. If you have further questions about AUSU, feel free to contact us at [email protected].
If you have questions about Athabasca University services, resources, procedures, or any other topic specific to the University or your studies, check out the AU Quick Links page on our website here, or contact AU directly.
AUSU council consists of nine councillors elected by the AUSU membership. General elections for student council are held every two years. You can find out more about AUSU elections online here.
We also occasionally have committee seats available for members-at-large to apply for. We have two standing committees that can have members-at-large on them – the Finance Committee and the Member Engagement and Communications Committee. We also occasionally form temporary working groups or ad-hoc committees that recruit from the membership. When these committee seats are available, they are posted to our website, social media, and our e-newsletter that is emailed to all AUSU members (except for those than have unsubscribed).
Members are also welcome to attend AUSU council meetings. Council meetings are typically held once per month by teleconference. During meetings, council discusses current initiatives, approves policy updates, presents reports from the staff, executives and committees, and more. There is also a Q&A period in all regular council meetings for members to address the council or ask them questions.
If you are interested in writing, our student publication, “The Voice Magazine”, is always looking for writers. The Voice Magazine is composed of articles, interviews, columns, and news that are written by AU students, for AU students. You can view The Voice online here, or email [email protected] if you are interested in being a writer.
Your student union fees are automatic and non-refundable. Make note, having a students’ union is mandated by the Government in the Alberta Post-Secondary Learning Act (section 94-95).
Even if you do not make use of AUSU’s services, we still do a lot of work on your behalf behind the scenes which requires funding, particularly in the form of advocacy.
We advocate to the provincial and federal governments for more affordable and accessible post-secondary education for all students, and are a member of the Canadian Alliance of Students’ Associations (CASA). Our executives meet with various government officials to advocate on behalf of AU students, including numerous meetings with the Minister of Advanced Education in Alberta, and travelling to Ottawa to meet with Senators and Members of Parliament on Parliament Hill during CASA’s annual Advocacy Week. You can find out more about the 2016 Advocacy Week online here.
We also advocate at the institutional level on a variety of topics, including improved student services, improved technology and infrastructure, e-texts and cost-savings sharing, reduction of fees, course and program maintenance and development, external relations, and more. You can read more about AUSU’s position on a variety of important advocacy topics in our position policies here (bottom of page, policies starting with 9). In fact, if it were not for AUSU’s advocacy, your tuition would likely be higher than it currently is!
Most recently, AUSU has worked tirelessly on advocating against the retroactive program changes that were implemented in the Faculty of Health Disciplines, and our advocacy efforts have had some good progress that greatly impacted students in that Faculty. You can read more about this online here.
For an overview of AUSU’s recent advocacy initiatives, visit our website here.
Additionally, please note that all of AUSU’s services are available to all AUSU students, regardless of their location. Since Athabasca University is an online institution, all of our services were designed specifically for distance education learners. We encourage you to make use of them!
AU is the Athabasca University itself.
AUSU is the Athabasca University Students’ Union. We are a completely separate, student run organization, with our own office space and budget. AUSU represents the undergraduate students of Athabasca University, with a membership of over 35,000 students per year. AUSU is run by council of 9 elected representatives, which includes 3 executive councillors, and a small staff comprised of 2 full-time and 2 part-time staff members.
AUSU collects a small student fee with each undergraduate course registration ($3 per credit), which is the lowest student fee in Alberta. With these fees, we provide numerous student services, including many awards and bursaries, free mobile app, free Student Lifeline health & wellness program, free subscription to lynda.com, online course evaluations, eyewear discounts, and more. We also provide extensive student advocacy, at the university level, as well as with the federal and provincial governments.
Make note, questions specific to AU should be directed to AU itself. Although AUSU can provide support and direction, we are not advisors for Athabasca University and do not work for them. You can find the AU contact information online here.
If you are having any kind of problem with the university, AUSU may be able to advocate on your behalf, or can provide you with information to assist you in your communications with the University. To receive assistance or advocacy from AUSU, please email [email protected]. We recommend outlining your concern with as much detail as possible so that we can determine the best way to assist you.
Your academic concerns are important to AUSU, and we appreciate when our members bring forward issues that that they feel are detrimental to achieving maximum satisfaction in their student experience. The University is very open to discussion with AUSU regarding student concerns, but our feedback must be logical and organized, so for this reason your input is essential.
Please note, if your issue is related to the length of time it is taking for someone at AU to get back to you on any topic (grades, exam requests, transfer credit, extensions, withdrawals, support, etc.), AU does have service standards outlined on their website here, which includes details on who to contact at AU if that service standard is not being met.
If you wish to appeal a decision made by AU, you can access information on the appeals process on the AU website here.
AUSU has been actively advocating about e-texts over the past few years. We are aware that many students would prefer physical textbooks instead of e-texts, or at least the option to be given a choice or have the cost savings passed on to the students.
AUSU sent out a survey about e-texts to all AU undergraduate students in May 2014. We received over 2300 responses, and the results showed overwhelmingly that AU students prefer a choice between physical books and e-texts. This information was shared with the University, and you can view the survey results online here. We also regularly collect feedback from students by email and social media (particularly the Mobile App and AU Facebook Forum) which we share with the University.
In addition, AUSU has a specific position policy about this that can be viewed online here. AUSU meets regularly with various executives at the University, including the President, the VP Academic, the VP Student and Academic Services, the VP Finance and Administration, Registrar, the Faculty Deans, among others, and we often raise the issue of e-texts, including the position AUSU holds on this topic and the feedback we receive from students.
AUSU will continue to advocate on behalf of our members about e-texts in the hopes that students will be given a choice between physical books or e-texts, and/or cost savings sharing.
You can review some of our most recent advocacy efforts online here.
In addition, AUSU has official positions on a variety of advocacy topics, including tuition and fees, technology and infrastructure, government funding, external relations, course and program developments and maintenance, career services, and e-text choice. You can review our position policies online here (policy section 9).
AUSU councillors sit on over 20 boards and committees at Athabasca University, where they actively advocate on your behalf. These committees include:
- AU Board of Governors
- General Faculties Council
- Academic Excellence Awards Committee
- Student Academic Appeals Committee
- Student Experience Team
- Faculty Councils
- E-Text Advisory Committee
AUSU regularly meets with AU Dean’s, various VP’s, and the President to discuss matters of importance to AU students. In addition, AUSU also advocates to the provincial and national governments for increased educational funding, equitable student loans programs, scholarships and bursaries, and other student issues.
AUSU is also a member of the Canadian Alliance of Students Associations (CASA). AUSU executives have travelled for numerous CASA conferences, as well as participated in CASA Advocacy Week on Parliament Hill where student leaders gather annually to advocate to various MP’s and senators for accessible and affordable post-secondary education in Canada.
For more information, visit our advocacy page online here.
AUSU provides all our members with a free subscription for lynda.com, the world’s premier online video training site. You can access this online here.
We also have discount on eyewear available, which you can access online here.
AU also offers a wide range of software discounts available through AU visit the website here.
AUSU does have a career resources page, which features resources on resume building, interview skills, job fairs across Canada, and national and provincial job search engines. You can access this online here.
There are also many career related training videos on lynda.com, which all AUSU members can access for free. Available videos include resume building, cover letters, interviewing, job hunting, negotiating job offers, new job success, and more. You can access your free lynda.com subscription online here.
Unfortunately, we do not post individual job offers. Since AU is an online institution, our members are spread out all over Canada and the world, and it would be very difficult to maintain job postings for every province and territory in Canada.
The promotion is currently only for AUSU members. In order to access the promotion, you need to fill out a student discount card and list your name, area of study, and estimated graduation date.
Please contact FYidoctors directly to find out what other promotion or deals you can get for your family members.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find a plan that will work with AU’s unique demographic.
At brick-and-mortar institutions, students are typically automatically opted into the health plan when they sign up for a semester, which is how they can offer low plan rates. However, an automatic opt-in plan will not work for AU.
The majority of AU students (approximately 80%) are part time, so automatically adding a health & dental plan fee of hundreds of dollars to a one-course registration would not be viewed favourably by most members. Further, about 30% of AU students are just visiting from other institutions, only taking 1 course at AU to supplement their studies elsewhere, and they typically have health and dental plans through their home institution. Additionally, our average undergraduate student age is higher than at most brick-and-mortar schools, with approximately 80% of students taking courses while working, so a lot of our members already have health and dental plans through their jobs.
The only other option is to provide an “opt-in” health plan, so students can voluntarily sign up for it. However, opt-in plans would involve very high premiums, upwards of $700-900 per month or more. Plans like this tend to get low enrolment, and typically the only people who enroll make more claims than the cost of their premiums, causing the plan to operate at a loss. Consequently, an opt-in plan is not likely to succeed.
For these reasons, AUSU is currently unable to provide a group health and dental plan that will work for our membership.
However, we do have a “Health Care Bursary” available for students in financial need that otherwise would not be able to afford a health care plan. The bursary can provide up to $1000 towards health or dental plan premiums. You can apply for this online here.
It is certainly possible to continue with your existing lynda.com account, if you pay the subscription fee yourself.
You will need to contact AUSU at [email protected] to ask us to archive your Lynda.com account. Once this is done, you can contact the lynda.com customer service team at 1-888-335-9632 to get help setting up your individual account and have your personal history merged with your new account.
Unfortunately, no, you cannot access the lynda.com subscription through the lynda.com mobile app. The only way to access lynda.com is by going through our website here and clicking on one of the links to lynda.com on this page.
In order for us to provide this service for free to our members, the system has to have some way to verify you are an AUSU member every time you log in. Since AU students don’t all have an AU email address, and they are not logging in from a campus IP address, the only way the system can identify you as an AUSU member in order to provide you free access is by going through our website, which will ask for your name and student ID to verify you are an AUSU member through our internal system before shunting you over to the lynda.com log-in page. There is no way to make this work with the lynda mobile app.
We apologize for the inconvenience but hope you enjoy the free subscription on us!
You can access AUSU’s handy lynda.com user guide online here. Please use this guide to troubleshoot. If you have any further questions or issues accessing this service, contact AUSU at [email protected].
Please note, you must be a current AUSU member (ie: currently enrolled in an AU undergraduate course for credit) in order to access the service.
- Search for your class in the “Courses” tile on the main page of the app.
- Click “Classes” in the top bar
- Enter a semester, start date & time (just enter anything here as it is arbitrary)
- Click the blue check-mark (top right) to save.
You can now schedule assignments, study time, or exams for your class!
Unfortunately, at this time the mobile app is not directly available on a desktop computer. We have put this request into the company that designed the app, however, there is no desktop version available at this point.
There are some apps that you can download that allow you to run iOS or Android apps on your desktop computer. However, please make note AUSU is not responsible for third party apps or any issues that may arise from using one.
AUSU is always looking for more ways to foster student engagement, so stay tuned!
AUSU has moved to a new, more modern planning interface through our free Mobile App, which not only helps you plan your studies, but also quickly access services and resources available to AU students, view important dates and deadlines, and connect with the campus community through a very active campus chat section.
AUSU is phasing out the paper calendar as they were very underutilized (less than 1% of our membership ordered them) but yet they were a significant cost to the membership. According to our 2016 Student Services Survey, the paper calendar was one of our membership’s lowest priority services, so AUSU decided to focus the membership dollars on services that our members identified as higher priority, such as increased awards and bursaries and improved advocacy.
We do have a small weekly 2017 pocket calendar available for students who still want one. To order one, email [email protected] with your name and student ID number. Please note, quantities are limited.
Absolutely! Make note, Athabasca University is an online institution, which means all AU students are distance learners, and they are spread out across Canada and the world. All our services were designed specifically for distance education learners, and can be accessed no matter where you live.
AUSU Awards and Bursaries – these are available to all AUSU members, regardless of location, and we have an easy-to-use online application.
Student Lifeline Health & Wellness Program – short-term counselling is available by video, phone, email, or in person with over 3000 counsellors spread all across Canada. 24/7 support is available by phone, and they have thousands of online resources and offer community research and referrals for anywhere in Canada.
Mobile App – free download no matter your location, with an active campus chat community. Great place to find study buddies in your local area!
Eyewear Discounts – these are offered through FYi Doctors, which has over 300 locations across Canada and growing.
Awards, Bursaries, and Funding
Students typically apply for funding through their Provincial or Territorial Student Assistance Offices. You can find information for each office on the AU website here.
AU has a Student Financial Aid Office that offers assistant to students on financial aid. Funded students must go through their Student Financial Aid Advisor when registering for courses or applying for course extensions.
You can also try applying for awards or bursaries. See previous question.
If you applied for a year-round bursary, decisions are typically made within 1-2 weeks (with the exception of Emergency Bursaries, for which the decision is typically made within a few business days due to the deadlines students need to meet).
If you applied for an award or bursary during our November or May awards deadlines, the decisions are typically made approximately 4-5 weeks after the deadline, as it takes quite a while to compile all the applications and review them all.
All awards and bursary applicants will be notified of the decision, whether or not their application is approved.
AUSU offers numerous awards, scholarships, and bursaries available on our website here.
AU also offers many different awards, scholarships, and bursaries, which you can view on the AU website here.
There are also other scholarship options available provincially and nationally. Here are a few sites to get you started:
AUSU’s mailing list is a member list sent to us from Athabasca University twice a month. If you want to change the email address that is listed, you will need to change it with AU using the Student Change of Information Form, available online here. AUSU is not able to change the email address for you.
AUSU reaches out to our membership in a variety of ways, including:
- E-Newsletter – AUSU’s e-newsletter is sent to all of our members (except those that have unsubscribed) by email generally twice per month, with info on services, events, upcoming deadlines, news, and more! We highly recommend checking these newsletters out as there may be important information for members!
- Welcome Email – sent to all new AUSU members with info about AUSU and our services.
- Social Media – AUSU posts daily on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn with updates on services, awards and bursaries available, upcoming deadlines, events, news, and more.
- Mobile App – AUSU regularly posts deadlines, service announcement, or news to the Mobile App chat wall.
- Services Survey – AUSU sends out a survey to our membership annually to get feedback about membership priorities. You can review the results of past surveys on our website here.
- The Voice Magazine – The Voice Magazine is a student run online publication that features news, stories, interviews, and columns written by AU students, for AU students. AUSU posts regular updates in The Voice with each weekly edition.
- Website – AUSU’s website is the primary source for information and news about AUSU, and features regular news stories and monthly executive blogs to keep our members informed about what is going on with AU and AUSU, a listing of our upcoming events, as well as information on our services, policies, meetings, council, and more.
Members can also reach out directly to AUSU through the following methods:
- By email to [email protected]
- By phone to 1-855-497-7003
- By text to 780-900-0908
- By live chat available through our website during office hours (Mon-Fri, 9:00am – 4:00pm MT)
AUSU is always looking for new ways to communicate with our members, so stay tuned for updates!
There are numerous ways to get in contact with other AU students.
- Download the Mobile App, provided free courtesy of AUSU. The app has a very active campus chat community.
- Reach out the community on the AU Facebook Forum.
- Search Facebook for “Athabasca University Group” to find other groups on Facebook, such as the Athabasca University Student Families Group or the Athabasca University LPN-BN Group.
- Many classes have a discussion option in Moodle so that classmates can chat with each other. If you are not sure if this is an option for your course, check with your tutor.
- Check out the Athabasca University group on Reddit.
- Check out The Landing, which is Athabasca University’s social networking site for students.