Athabasca Tutors speak out against cut backs

EDMONTON – The union representing 300 tutors, academic experts, markers, and lab instructors at Athabasca University is joining the growing chorus of voices against cut backs to Alberta’s post-secondary institutions.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3911 said today that broken promises by the Redford government make it harder for Albertans who want to pursue their education online–especially those who live in rural communities, remote areas, and Aboriginal communities–to access a post-secondary education.

“Athabasca University serves a unique segment of the population – one that can’t go to school in a traditional bricks and mortar university,” said spokesperson Dr. Mark Dimirsky. “By forcing Athabasca to cut back, the government is effectively limiting access to education to students who have few other options. Ironically, the open nature and accessibility of AU fulfills the entire e-campus initiative. The cuts make little sense.”

Dimirsky added that Premier Redford broke her promise to increase and stabilize funding. “By turning a 2% increase over three years, which was promised, into a 7% decrease, the Premier has forced universities to cut programs and services. This is not what Albertans thought they were voting for.”

“We’re already facing a situation where our members are being asked to take on more students, to reduce or eliminate one-on-one tutoring, and to teach university material using assembly-line techniques that don’t work. Why would a government concerned with Alberta’s economy penalize the University in the province that focuses its efforts on allowing working people to re-start, augment and/or finish their educations at reasonable prices while continuing to work at their primary jobs?”

“For a Premier who is herself a product of higher learning, she is showing a shocking lack of understanding of what it takes to produce a credible university education.”

Contact: Robert Wiznura