Evidence is accumulating that AU positions traditionally located in Athabasca are slowly being moved to Edmonton. This is a matter of serious concern, with AU being the main employer in Athabasca and the surrounding region. The Athabasca University Faculty Association (AUFA) is currently working to gather statistics on positions leaving Athabasca. The main focus of the moved jobs appears to be the higher-paying professional and executive positions which are no longer being advertised as location-specific to Athabasca.
The issue of keeping positions in Athabasca was addressed in the recent Third Party Report by Dr. Ken Coates. The report, released in June 2017, stated that the university should develop a “more focused presence” in Athabasca but also suggested “AU relocate selected core activities to AU offices in the Edmonton region.” Previous to the report, in response to specific questioning, the Alberta Minister of Advanced Education had assured those who work for AU that AU jobs would remain in Athabasca.
Chris McLeod, AU Communications Director, said that AU remains committed to Athabasca. McLeod was quoted recently in the Athabasca Advocate as saying: “We’re based in Athabasca; our headquarters are in Athabasca; a large number of our staff are in Athabasca. Nothing in the works that’s been occurring changes that.” Mcleod added, however, that AU needed to be ‘flexible.’ “As any employer, whether that’s AU or somewhere else, you want to make sure you’re attracting the best staff we can. We have to be adaptable around what that looks like.”