2014 06 26 – news release

For immediate release:
June 26, 2014

New President at Athabasca U an opportunity to revisit call centre: CUPE

CALGARY – The union representing part time instructors at Athabasca University is calling on incoming AU President Peter MacKinnon to review the move toward a ‘call centre’ model of distance learning.

CUPE Local 3911 spokesperson Ronnie Leah said she hopes MacKinnon, taking office July 1, will take time to consult widely and ‘find better solutions.’

The union has been undertaking a campaign to pressure the university to back down from a model of distance education where students are directed to call centres instead of having one instructor per student.  The union set up a website, www.protectlearningatau.ca with an on line post card that makes the point administrators can’t replace teachers.

To date, over 500 people have sent post cards.

Leah said that despite assurances from the Alberta government that consultations will take place, the University has moved forward without buy in from key stakeholders.

“Staff, faculty, students and members of the wider academic community have all expressed grave concern about Athabasca’s reputation given its move to a call centre,” said Leah.  “It’s our hope that MacKinnon will consult widely and re-consider this direction.

“For our part, CUPE 3911 will work hard to find alternatives that meet the academic and financial needs of the university.

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Contact: Ronnie Leah
(403) 669-3554