First things first, congratulations to the graduates up at convocation who have taken the time to travel all the way to Northern Alberta to walk across that stage. As for the rest of you, who’ve graduated throughout the year but couldn’t or didn’t want to take the trip, well, who cares. Just to be clear, That’s not me. I very much care, as I was one of those people myself, but It’s the impression I always get from AU’s convocation ceremonies.
It seems strange how a university that prides itself on operating at a distance does so little to acknowledge those who’ve graduated at that distance if they can’t eliminate it and show up at a certain time and place in early June. Would it really be so hard for AU to keep a list of names between convocations and, for those who aren’t at the ceremony, at least run a trawler line at the bottom of the screen listing the names of all those who attained degrees but weren’t there? It wouldn’t be much, but it would still be better than what those students receive now.
Like many things with AU, there seems to be this dichotomy between whether It’s truly a distance university, or simply a northern university that happens to operate by distance much of the time. I fear that the newly released Third Party Report does not do a lot to dispel that dichotomy, even as it acknowledges it when it discusses some of the cost implications of AU operating in Athabasca and having multiple offices. My first impression of it is that It’s a bit of a mixed bag. It doesn’t seem to come to terms itself whether AU should regard itself as a premier distance organization and so should concentrate on It’s flexibility or a northern institution and so should concentrate on those type of studies. It seems to be suggesting that AU should do both, even to the point of developing on-location courses to help out other northern and indigenous institutions, but personally, I wonder if that split in focus is really something that AU wants to pursue. However, next week we’re going to have a student focussed look into the Third Party Report to see what it means for you.
My hope is that it means, if nothing else, that the Government of Alberta will finally see the funding disparity that AU has been dealing with for years, where we’re educating more students than the University of Lethbridge, but receiving about half the government funding to do so, even while being required to operate in a remote community which forces higher expenses for many things, including wages for faculty and staff.
Meanwhile, this week, we’ve got a couple of articles on convocation, one from a student who’s hoping to achieve it in the future, titled “Left Behind”, and the other if our Fly on the Wall column, from a student who already has. This way we get a view from each side of the fence, but neither is quite what I’d call a traditional look. You’ll have to read them both to find out. We also have our usual selection of unusual advice for your assignments and life, as well as what you need to keep up to date with what’s going on in the student communities around AU.
Enjoy the read!