AUSU COUNCIL DOWN TO SEVEN AND MOVING ON – Shannon Maguire brings a student perspective to the recent upheavals in AUSU council.
MY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION – Barbara Godin has finally found something she can stick to all year round!
THE HARRIED STUDENT APPRECIATES CANADA – The Harried Student – who takes the concept of distance learning to its very extremes – returns with the world perspective on dear old Canada.
NEW COLUMN – The Voice Events Listings
This week The Voice launches a new column containing world wide listings for events of interest to students. Find out what’s going on in your area, or submit items for inclusion in the column. These listings are one more way The Voice hopes to build a world-wide student community at AU. We also hope that by attending events at local venues, AU students can round out their educations and take advantage of the total university experience. This week the Events Listings appear both in the Features and News sections of The Voice. Starting next week, the column will appear only in the News section. New listings will be added as we become aware of them, and will run until the event has occurred.
Council reporters wanted
The Voice needs reporters who are able to write clear, critical and balanced reviews of what goes on at AUSU council meetings. Meetings take place about once a month, and may be attended by teleconference from almost anywhere in the world. Inquire with the Voice editor at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information on this opportunity.
Bill 43 is all but done
After months of discussion, frantic press scrums, government meetings, and student’s organization campaigning, the final version of Alberta Education Bill 43, The Post Secondary Learning Act 2003, “has been given Royal Assent and will now likely be proclaimed in whole or in part by late January or early February” (Insider).
Like most legislation, this is a bill that means different things to different people. From the perspective of Athabasca University, benefits of the new bill mean that:
“¢ AU can alter its Governance structure from a unicameral system (where “AU Governing Council is the ultimate authority on all matters:”) to a bicameral system (where “Academic Council is responsible for all academic matters and Governing Council for strategy and finance”).
“¢ One more student member will be added to AU Governing Council.
“¢ Tuition will be regulated through a cap [although student’s organizations insist that the cap, which includes many provisions to allow tuition to increase beyond the upper limit, is similar to no cap at all].
“¢ Colleges and technical institutes will have more opportunities to grant degrees, and colleges and private universities will no longer be limited to only granting undergraduate degrees.
(Adapted from The Insider)
The key to the new bill, according to AU, is flexibility, and making colleges and universities accountable to a quality assurance body when new programs are proposed (The Insider).
The Alberta government also sings the praises of their new education bill, which streamlines education legislation by combining several education regulatory acts (the Universities Act, the Colleges Act, the Technical Institutes Act and the Banff Centre Act) under a single bill for the first time. Alberta Learning states that the “Alberta Legislature has passed legislation that will give students better access to a greater diversity of post-secondary programs.”
“The passing of this legislation means more access to degree opportunities and that means more choices for students,” said Learning Minister Dr. Lyle Oberg. “This is especially important to rural students, who could potentially see more opportunities to study closer to home. This legislation is going to help our post-secondary education system enter a new era of accessibility” (Alberta Learning).
It could be argued that it would be much more cost-effective to increase access to distance learning for rural students, than to promote the building of more post-secondary infrastructure in rural areas. However, Dr. Oberg has stated that “there are a lot of people that do not necessarily want distance learning : they would sooner have the learning in the classroom in the typical university environment” (Bill 43 Sends a Powerful Message). What is not clear is if this statement is based on a supposition of the Learning Minister, or actual research into the learning preferences of Albertans.
An unexpected benefit (for students) of the new Bill, and that it combines all of the post-secondary acts affecting Alberta colleges and universities, has been an increased and more cohesive student advocacy presence in the province. Due to concerns about this act, CAUS (the Council of Alberta University Students) and ACTISEC (the Alberta College and Technical Institute Students’ Executive Council) have begun working together. This is a significant development as in the past, the two bodies worked independently and lobbied separately for changes to the acts affecting their member intuitions. While Alberta may be pleased to have simplified Post Secondary legislation under a single act, the government will now also have to work with a larger and more cohesive student interest group, and thus we see an end to the “divide and conquer” strategy that has allowed the government to alter education legislation with little effective opposition from students groups.
Alberta Learning. Passage of Bill 43 opens new doors for students. Online at: http://www.learning.gov.ab.ca/college/Bill43/
AU Insider – December 23, 2003. The new law and Athabasca University. Stephen Murgatroyd, PhD. Online at: http://www.athabascau.ca/insider/2003/Dec23-03.htm
Bill 43 Sends a Powerful Message. November 26, 2003. Tamra Ross Low. “Bill 43 sends a powerful message about Campus Alberta,” says Minister Oberg The Voice, v11 i48. Online at: http://www.ausu.org/voice/search/searchdisplay.php?ART=2298
Council of Alberta University Students – Deregulation Nation: http://www.deregulatoinnation.com/
ACTISEC – Alberta College and Technical Institute Students’ Executive Council: http://www.actisec.ca/
Additional links on Bill 43: http://www3.telus.net/DebateBill43/
Tamra Ross Low – Editor in Chief