Below is an overview of some of our recent advocacy initiatives – both in progress and some recent successes. We are working hard to make life as an Athabasca University student just a little bit easier, and to ensure your voice is heard at every level of government and within Athabasca University itself. If you have any questions, please contact [email protected].
Check out our July 2020 executive blog for an update on AUSU’s advocacy work from AUSU President Natasha Donahue.
Some highlights of our current advocacy work include bringing student perspectives to AU regarding the switch to e-texts and cost-savings sharing, more government funding for AU, a part-time student financial aid program, better access to awards, supports for students with disabilities, a new Indigenous Student Representation Committee, a possible Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, affordability for tuition and fees, and much more!
Working with Athabasca University
We are always looking for ways that Athabasca University can improve the student experience. We meet quarterly with a wide variety of stakeholders in the campus community as well as represent students on various university committees all with the goal of bringing the student perspective to issues.
We have a special focus in the coming months to demonstrate the value that AUSU provides to the institution through the many services we offer students in addition to the voice we bring to the table in discussions with university.
We also want to work to reduce the financial barriers many of our students face, such as advocating to Athabasca University for lower costs associated with taking exams or for those students studying from outside Alberta.
AUSU is a proud member of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), and actively brings the concerns of distance education students to the Government of Canada. The federal government is responsible for a significant amount of student financial aid that goes to Canadian students, as well as establishes national priorities around areas like open educational resources, mental health funding, and university infrastructure projects.
You can visit CASA at casa-acae.com to find out more and see what your national advocacy organization is working in the coming months.
Whether you’re studying in Beaumont, Alberta or Beaumont, Newfoundland, it is the Government of Alberta that sets the rules around tuition and fees at Athabasca University, as well as determines how much government funding AU has access to. That all has a direct impact on the quality of our education and the barriers to getting into your courses.
AUSU is working with partners across Alberta to see changes that will benefit Athabasca University students, including:
- Bringing Athabasca University’s government funding in line with other universities across Canada;
- Increasing opportunities for part-time students to receive student financial aid; and
- Keeping education tax credits that benefit students who are already working and paying taxes.
Position policy handbook
You can download the AUSU Position Policy Handbook online here, which outlines all of our positions on various political issues that matter to Athabasca University students. Feel free to contact us to talk about these positions at [email protected].
The list below is just some recent successes AUSU has had as a result of our advocacy efforts, but there are many other smaller victories that were achieved as well. AUSU is always working hard to get more accomplished for AU students.
- Reducing the interest rate on Canada Student Loans and making loans interest-free six months after graduation;
- Increasing spending by $816 million by the Government of Canada for financial aid to Canadian indigenous students;
- Extending the tuition freeze for Alberta university students and tying all future increases for Alberta students to inflation;
- Arguing to reduce the cost of out-of-province tuition increases at Athabasca University, which saw a planned increase of 4% lowered to 2.6%;
- Securing $645,000 for mental health initiatives at Athabasca University from the Government of Alberta;
- Fighting for Athabasca University students in the development of the Coates Report, which led to $4.9 million in funding for improving Athabasca University’s IT resources;
- Advocating for students regarding retroactive changes to the AU Nursing program, which made it much harder for existing students to graduate, which led to a policy review by AU to ensure program changes would not be applied retroactively in the future and that GPA changes to programs would be approved by the appropriate governing body.