Monday, March 6, 2017

Athabasca University Third Party Review

Athabasca University (AU) and the Government of Alberta have appointed Dr. Ken Coates (University of Saskatchewan), to lead a review into how to make the university financially viable. This follows a report in 2015, which warned of insolvency by 2016/2017. Students are to be consulted and Dr. Coates is to report by 30 April 2017. The Terms of Reference for Independent Third Party Review (TOR, January 2017) state the review is to:
"Examine and assess possible options to improve the sustainability of the institution, including but not limited to:
  • The institution’s place within Campus Alberta – this involves exploring the appropriateness of the institution continuing its current capacity, and if the institution’s sustainability would improve if it became primarily a teaching university with a greater focus on ensuring access for Albertans;
  • Developing a new business model – this involves examining the appropriateness of the current delivery model as an open and distance university, and exploring alternative delivery methods that would improve sustainability;
  • Partnering with another Campus Alberta Institution –this involves exploring the feasibility and implications of partnering with another institution, including examining the costs, impact on staffing and implications to students of such a partnership; and,
  • Amalgamating with another entity or Campus Alberta institution – this involves exploring the feasibility and implications of the institution becoming a part of another entity, while maintaining the campus in Athabasca."

I designed one of AU's graduate courses and recently graduated from AU with a MEd in Distance Education. So I have some suggestions:
  1. "Some issues" in "Athabasca University Review",
  2. "Lessons from the Report for Athabasca University" in "Online College Students Preferences",
  3. "Suggestions for Improving the MEd" in "Master of Education in Distance Education by Distance Education",
  4. Australia's University of New England (UNE) is a regional university with challenges similar to AU. UNE has had several unsuccessful attempts to innovate, which AU might do well to avoid,
  5. "Digital Teaching In Higher Education: Designing E-learning for International Students of Technology, Innovation and the Environment". This is a book based on my MEd DE studies and may be of interest.

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