Third Party Review of Athabasca University Finally Released


On Friday June 9, 2017, Athabasca University finally released the report of the Third Party Review of Athabasca University, completed by Dr. Ken Coates of University of Regina.  The report was actually given to AU on April 30 but was only shown to the Board of Governors (BoG), upper administration, and the provincial government’s Ministry of Post-Secondary Education until June 9 when it was released to the rest of Au and the general public. No reasons were given as to why the report was held back for five weeks.  The delay is particularly of interest in view of the fact that AU subscribes to the notion of “collegial governance”, whereby the university is supposedly run by the BoG and the General Faculty Association (GFC).  Since the report was initially not shown to the GFC, it would appear that the actuality of “collegial governance” is that one collegial party, the BoG, is actually superior in status to the other party, the GFC.


While the whole report should be of great interest to members of CUPE 391, one section is of particular interest. On page 36 and 37, the report states the following, under the heading, “Align Professional and Union Agreements with the New AU Institutional Plan.”


“Union and association contracts can limit institutional flexibility and responsiveness. AU’s contracts reflect institutional priorities and values from the past and are not necessarily well-suited to present and future needs. This situation is not unique to AU or Canadian universities in general. AU should, in a manner consistent with appropriate professional and union bargaining processes, work, over the current

negotiation cycle, with its unions and associations to connect its agreements with the revised business plan.”


Your Executive certainly plans to obtain further clarification from AU as to what this section means for our members.  We also plan to consult with our allies in AUFA and AUPE about this and other parts of the report. It is important for all CUPE members to join in on this analysis by reading the report and sending their feedback to the CUPE Executive.  We welcome all views.

The entire Coates Report may be found at

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