In 1984, Athabasca University was relocated to the town of Athabasca to help create jobs and stimulate economic growth in the region. For the last 40 years, it has excelled in delivering distance learning while driving employment, social and economic growth in the town.

Athabasca University had about 500 employees based in Athabasca until 2014, but now only half that number work in the town. A 2017 report into the university’s future recommended that the university strengthen its physical presence in Athabasca.

Alberta’s government recognizes the importance of keeping jobs in Athabasca, just as previous governments have. That’s why Alberta’s government and Athabasca University have agreed upon a new investment management agreement with Athabasca University to grow and strengthen the university’s physical presence in the region.

“I’m very happy that we have finally reached an agreement with Athabasca University. Under the terms of the investment management agreement, Athabasca University has committed to bringing more jobs to the town. Specifically, the agreement stipulates that four of the university’s nine executive members must be based in the town of Athabasca within the next three years and that the university must grow the number of local employees from 252 to 277 within three years. These targets are very achievable and I am confident the university will be able to meet these goals. How the university achieves these targets is entirely up to it and I have already heard about some interesting and exciting ideas from the faculty association and others about how this can be accomplished. Alberta is home to ingenuity and innovation and I am confident the university can continue to excel in online learning while bringing more jobs to the region.”

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education

“I’m thankful the minister recognized the needs of the local community for Athabasca University to retain and grow its physical presence in the town of Athabasca. I’m also thankful that local groups working closely with the minister and the university have reached an agreement that moves Athabasca University in the right direction in a healthy and sustainable manner.”

Glenn Van Dijken, MLA for Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock

“Athabasca University is pleased to announce that it has reached a three year Investment Management Agreement with the Government of Alberta. This new agreement will ensure Athabasca University continues to drive economic growth in the region while remaining a leader in distanced-learning not only in Canada but across the world. I look forward to working with our administration to further AU’s world-class distanced-learning education to the benefit of students, staff and faculty.”

Byron Nelson, board chair, Athabasca University

“It’s virtually impossible to imagine our region without Athabasca University. I’d like to thank the minister for his involvement and congratulate the board for finalizing the agreement and providing AU’s executive with a clear mandate going forward. We want AU to be successful and I believe the community is ready and willing to support AU in this transition. When rural Alberta is healthy, all of Alberta is made stronger.”

Brian Hall, reeve, Athabasca County

“This new agreement is great news for the town and I’m thankful to the minister and the board for their work on this. The people of Athabasca can rest assured knowing Athabasca University will bring jobs and economic growth to the town. It’s a privilege to be home to this world-class institution and we look forward to their continued excellence as a global leader in online learning.”

Rob Balay, mayor, Town of Athabasca

“Having strong post-secondary institutions like Athabasca University in northeastern Alberta is vital for the continued growth of our region. We appreciate the Government of Alberta’s continued support in rural education – this commitment demonstrates the importance of our communities in building up and diversifying the province’s economy. Minister Nicolaides and the board have worked very hard to make sure our community, along with all Albertans, can be rest assured that we will continue to enjoy all of the benefits of having this world-class institution in this community.”

Colin Derko, mayor, Village of Boyle

Each of Alberta’s public post-secondary institutions must sign an investment management agreement, which operationalizes performance-based funding. Every agreement is unique to the given institution.

This agreement is part of the Alberta government’s commitment to invest in people, infrastructure and research capacity in the post-secondary sector. Making post-secondary education accessible and affordable for all Albertans is a key goal under the transformational Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs strategy.

Quick facts

  • Investment management agreements are one part of the Alberta 2030 strategy to reimagine post-secondary education and will lead to better jobs for graduates, smarter spending at our post-secondary institutions on priorities important to Albertans and more value for every taxpayer dollar spent on the system.
  • The government is collaborating with all post-secondary institutions to develop comprehensive investment management agreements for 2022-23 that will include a variety of goals tailored to each institution.
  • The 2022-23 base Operating Grant for Athabasca University is $41,569,251.