What does this mean for students taking courses at Athabasca University?
- The current “tutor” model of education means students are assigned to a tutor who is their instructor for that course and they have direct contact with their instructors throughout their course, with ongoing support for learning.
- The “call centre” model places barriers between students and instructors by requiring that students contact the call centre before staff decide whether the student should be referred to an academic. A non-academic judges whether the student should talk with their academic instructor; this isn’t fair to either the student or the call centre worker. It replaces the direct relationship that students have with their instructors under the tutor model.
- This call centre plan is based on the “bottom line” — not on better education for students. Students will pay the same for a course, but have less contact with instructors and less support for learning.
What does this mean for part time instructors at Athabasca University?
- Part-time instructors at Athabasca University are called tutors and academic experts. The tutors have direct contact with the students assigned to them. The academic experts have students referred to them by the call centre. There is a barrier between academic experts and the students – which is very frustrating for instructors who care about teaching.
- Tutors are responsible for teaching students and supporting their learning throughout the course. They are highly qualified academics and professionals who receive regular hourly pay as university educators. Academic experts are also highly qualified professionals who teach students in their courses, but under the call centre model, they are piece workers who must bill by the minute for the work they do.
What does this mean for Athabasca University?
- Athabasca University is devaluing its programs and damaging its reputation by pushing a call centre model for their courses. This leads to a reduced standard of learning for courses that go beyond right and wrong answers. Many instructors, faculty and students are concerned the wholesale move to a call centre threatens the credibility of education at Athabasca University.
- We are concerned about the integrity of the University, and we want the administration to reverse direction before Athabasca University’s reputation is permanently damaged.
- There are alternatives. The University has to work with instructors, faculty, students, and other stakeholders to find solutions that keep costs low while preserving the quality of the education we provide.
Sponsored by CUPE 3911, representing tutors and academic experts at AU.