Response to D. Abrioux’s letter by AUSU President Debbie Jabbour. Originally published in the Edmonton Journal on August 14, reprinted with permission of the author.
I would like to thank Athabasca University president Dr. Dominique Abrioux for the information he has provided in response to the letter from concerned AU student J.R. Buhler.
While the Athabasca University Students’ Union (AUSU) understands the pressures the current tuition fee policy has created for our institution, we do not feel that removal from any type of legislated tuition limits is the answer.
What guarantee do current and future AU students have that the university, once removed from government policy restrictions, will continue to provide students with some degree of predictability and protection from excessive tuition increases?
Without such legislated protection, AUSU believes that the removal of distance education from the tuition fee policy, with no other guaranteed means of ensuring predictability or fiscal responsibility in terms of the financial demands on students, effectively deregulates distance education, placing Athabasca University students at a disadvantage.
Strategic reasons and market forces are insufficient to ensure tuition control.
Abrioux stated that AU students are less disadvantaged than students on traditional campuses due to no loss of foregone income and relocation-related living expenses. This is true. However, AU students are highly disadvantaged in that, as part-time mature students, most of us are unable to access forms of government assistance such as student loans and bursaries. We cannot be further disadvantaged by having our protection against excessive tuition increases removed.
AUSU is therefore asking the Alberta government to keep AU within the tuition fee policy, and to ensure the university has adequate government funding to fulfil its mandate as an accessible open university of which Alberta and Canada can be proud.
Athabasca University Students’ Union