Athabasca University

From Academic Kids

Athabasca University, headquartered in Athabasca, Alberta, is a fully accredited institution specialized in the delivery of distance education courses and programs. Athabasca University is also recognized as one of the fastest growing universites in Canada. Courses are offered in both English and French.

The University is especially popular with students who are disabled, overseas, looking after family members, single parents who need a degree to get ahead in their careers, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, students who are working full time and students who need just that extra course to add on to their degrees or diplomas at a traditional university.

June 2005 Dr. Frits Pannekoek became the new President of the University. [1] (

Athabasca University
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Learning for life
President Dr Frits Pannekoek
Established 1970
School Type Public
Location Athabasca, Alberta, Canada
Campuses Athabasca, Edmonton and Calgary
Enrollment 29,542
University Colours Blue and Green
Member of ACU, AUCC


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Front of the University's main building.

Created by the Alberta government in 1970, Athabasca University was formed when a fourth traditional university couldn't be justified. New teaching and learning ideas for post-secondary students were studied and considered. Finally a pilot project was developed starting in 1972 in which students enrolled, to see if the community liked the idea of this new concept of teaching. Distance education. After being considered a success, the University was granted a permanent, self-governing status in 1978. After growing too big for where it was located, Athabasca University moved 145 kilometres north from Edmonton to the town of Athabasca, Alberta in 1984 where it is now established. Satellite centers are in Calgary and Edmonton.

Distance Education

The University has become a leader in distance education. Its flexible programs, geared to continuing education using state-of-the-art communications technology, has attracted participation by students from around the world. The University is a leader in on-line study programs and has a special dedicated web site for that purpose.


Students at the University write their exams in a different way than a regular university. They can write them at any one of the three learning centres, or by arranging to do it at a local college or university.

AU's classes are taught in several ways:

  • Individual study: Students are provided with the textbooks, computer software, and video material required. A pre-set recommended schedule comes with each course in a "course reader". The student is then free to study as they wish. Students have up to 6 months to finish their course, unless they are received a student loan, in which case, they have up to 4 months. Courses start at the beginning of each month.
  • Grouped study: Offered primarily to students physically in Alberta, this method allows students to get together with other sudents in the same course, and study in a manner similar to that of a regular university. Students studying in this method have up to 4 months to complete their course. Courses start in September and January.


AU is recognized as a leader in distance education. Their programs are appreciated by students who work full-time and wish to pursue studies towards a degree because of the flexibility distance learning provides to such students.

AU's MBA is also noted as being one of the top degrees in both Canada and the world.

Facts & Trivia

  • In 2004, Athabasca's Executive MBA was rated in the top 75 by the Financial Times, the only executive MBA on the list that is delivered entirely online. [2] (
  • Canada's only exclusively open University
  • Maclean's Magazine called it Canada's fastest growing university
  • Cannot be ranked by Maclean's Magazine except for a biographical writeup due to its difference with other universities.
  • Originally started in Edmonton but outgrew their facilities, and moved an hour and a half north (160 km) to Athabasca, Alberta.
  • Serves about 30,000 students per year
  • Admissions are year-round.
  • 1,028 staff as of March 2004
  • Awarded prize for Institutional Learning in 2004 by the International Council on Open and Distance Education. In 2002 the Commonwealth of Learning awarded AU a similar prize.
  • In an independent survey for the Government of Alberta, 96% of students said they would recommend AU to a friend. The survey was in 2002.
  • 59% of Athasbasca students are between the ages of 25 and 44.
  • Only Canadian University to seek accreditation in the USA.
  • 36% of students come from population-rich Ontario
  • "Movie stars, world-class athletes and AU grads are among the most photographed people in the world." -Athabasca University


Authority to Grant Degrees

Athabasca University reports to the government through the Minister of Learning and is publically funded throught the Province of Alberta. The University's Governing Council is authorized to grant degrees through the Post-Secondary Learning Act along with governing its own affairs. Members of the Governing Council are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in council.

Accreditation in the United States

The University is a candidate for accreditation in the United States by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.


Full details here (


Undergraduate Programs

Graduate Programs


Athletics at Athabasca work somewhat differently than a traditional university, seeing as almost all of its programs are done by distance education. The Athabasca University Students Union offers a Sports Club ( The Club via their website, encourages individual participation in sports, or local groups that get together of students at the University, to participate in various events. One such group they have is a Fitness Support Group, created " to help the members of the AUSC achieve their health, fitness and sports goals."

Other features they have are an "Athlete of the Month," "Latest Scores," Olympics information, and "Ask Angela" a column on becoming more physically fit and healthy or learning how to play sports.

See also Athabasca University Students Union

Notable Students & Alumni

Main article: List of Athabasca University people


In Spring of 2004 there was controversy about Alberta Premier Ralph Klein plagiarising a paper he was doing. The University cleared him of it, but it brought the University into public awareness even more than it had been.

"The plagiarism allegation stemmed from a now controversial essay Klein wrote on Chilean history. Collier found that Klein had failed to properly cite the Internet sources he used for the paper, but his instructor had noted the mistake in marking the essay and offered guidance for correcting it." - Canoe article (

Presidents of Athabsca University

See also

External links

Template:Ab Uni


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