Imagine

Transforming Lives Transforming Communities

The Athabasca University Story Open, Flexible, and Everywhere

Our families, our jobs, our communities: the most important things in our lives are changing. To prepare for change, to lead it, we are driven to be more open, more flexible, and more adaptable — no matter who we are, how old we are, or where we live.

We are driven to learn.

A typical university, with its schedules and lecture halls, is closed to all but a fraction of us. This is because most of us don’t live in the right place, we’re not the right age, or it’s not the right time.

We’re bound by family commitments or we can’t quit our jobs to travel to a campus and sit in classrooms.

Like the river with which it shares a name and a surging spirit, Athabasca University, Canada’s Open University erodes obstacles. It dismantles the barrier between you and your ambition — your best future.

At Athabasca University, you do live in the right place. You are the right age. Your family makes you a better, prouder student. Please, study on your time. The only commute is to your device.

Some of Canada’s finest professors choose Athabasca University for the same reason you study with us. They ensure your classes and degrees are rigorous and challenging and you can connect with them over the dinner table — yours and theirs.

Athabasca is for the leader who wants to build their community without leaving it. It is for the learner who could study on any campus or maybe already does but craves flexibility and control of their time.

It is for learners who were not ready for university when they were teenagers but are ready now.

It is for nurses and accountants and entrepreneurs and teachers and designers who want to go to graduate school but wouldn’t dream of leaving their jobs. It is for you.

Canada’s Open University unleashes your full potential in the places where you can make the most impact: with your families, your workplaces, at home in your villages, towns, and cities.

You can create and contribute as you study.

This is how Athabasca University transforms lives and communities. The real world sees no separation between your education and the rest of your life. Neither does Athabasca.

Athabasca University was North America’s first online university. Its open and flexible environment is built on leveraging technology to enable learning. Athabasca is re-imagining its founding spirit with new investments in digital education. Athabasca University will never stop striving to perfect it.

Up Next Message from the President

Message from the President and Provost

Athabasca university respectfully acknowledges that we are on and work on the traditional lands of the Indigenous peoples (Inuit, First Nations, Métis) of Canada. We honour the ancestry, heritage and gifts of the Indigenous peoples and give thanks to them.

We are pleased to present Imagine: Transforming Lives, Transforming Communities, Athabasca University’s Strategic Plan. Imagine embodies who we are and who we aspire to become. The work of many hands, Imagine builds upon the strength and spirit of our entire Athabasca University community. Imagine also embraces our future, boldly charting a course that reflects our collective creativity, innovation, and drive to transform lives and communities.

Our Imagine plan comprises four primary components:

  • AU's story, representing who we are and what we seek to accomplish.
  • Our values, commitments, and foundations—the inherent drivers of all that we do, every day.
  • Our four strategic themes—the compass points providing direction and focus to all we do.
  • A strategic roadmap that sets forth our priorities over the next five years, including a description of how our plan will impact learners, research, and the Athabasca University community itself.

At Athabasca University, we find inspiration in our learners’ journeys toward reaching their highest potential. Their stories inform and inspire our Imagine plan, and they fuel our own journey to transform lives and transform communities through the power of education and research.

We are incredibly proud of Athabasca University’s unparalleled capacity to elevate the social good through inclusive education and open scholarship. Our passion for transformation is shared by many around the world. Imagine sets out a pathway for our journey, so that others may follow.

Neil Fassina, PhD, CPHR, ICD.D President Athabasca University
Matthew Prineas, PhD Provost and Vice-President Academic Athabasca University

Up Next Our Pledge to Students

We pledge to

Make your experience seamless and intuitive, so you can focus on what matters — your learning and your life.

Adapt our programs, courses, and services to fit the diverse needs and goals of our learners.

Adapt to changes in the new economy to prepare our focused and self-reliant learners for a world that demands digital literacy.

Partner with employers and with other colleges and universities so Athabasca graduates aren’t only ready to work — they’re ready to lead.

Up Next Our “I-CARE” values

Our “I-CARE” values

Integrity

We are guided by ethics, honesty, and fairness in all our actions, engendering trust within our University community.

Community

We are one University. We achieve more together. We embrace collaboration and connectivity among our diverse individual community members and their teams.

Adaptability

We are flexible. We respond to the changing needs of our University and its learners with courage and continuous improvement.

Respect

We foster respect by contributing to an environment in which every individual is valued.

Excellence

We ask bold questions, provoke new ways of thinking, and focus on those things at which we can excel to enhance the quality of all that we do.

Up Next Our Commitments

Our Commitments

Investing in ourselves and others

We are committed to creating and supporting a growth culture that celebrates success, superior performance, action, and persistence toward our vision. We are purposeful in the training, development, and deployment of our employees throughout our University. We actively create and foster the culture we choose to have.

Shared responsibility

Grounded in equity, we are committed to a cohesive community that shares the responsibility for the success of our University and all of our communities, recognizing that we are an active partner in a broader system.

Accountability

We empower action and mutual accountability through openness and transparency.

Transforming

In a global, complex, and Increasingly fast-changing world, we embrace transformation through innovation to ensure that we foster a resilient and creative environment to achieve our highest potential.

Technology

Technology is an enabler for all that we do. We leverage emerging technologies and implement creative solutions to create value for our University; we use the power of digital data ethically and responsibly; and we build full digital literacy in both learners and staff.

Up Next Our Strategic Themes

Our Strategic Themes

Imagine

Moving beyond the Norm

Adopting Innovative Ideas, Taking Calculated Risks

Moving beyond Place

Transforming Communities Through Belonging And Relationships

Moving beyond the Now

Supporting Transformative & Incremental Change Through Agility & Adaptability

Moving beyond Open

Bridging Open & Inclusion

Moving Beyond the Norm: Adopting Innovative Ideas, Taking Calculated Risks

Our future is limited only by our imagination. We build on our rich history by embracing new possibilities and streamlining our existing processes for the betterment of our learners, ourselves, and our partners. We continue to embrace emergent technologies in recognition that technologies enable us to create access and enhance open and distributed learning environments of the highest quality. We take risks, seek out ideas, and adopt innovations to create clearly defined value-added outcomes. A culture of innovation and creativity in action will be the norm. External communities will look to Athabasca University for leadership in accessible, inclusive, innovative, and digitally enabled distributed learning.

In moving beyond the norm, we will transform lives and communities by:

  • embracing innovation and action grounded in creativity and teamwork;
  • taking calculated risks and employing evidence-based decision making;
  • celebrating our accomplishments as bold decision-makers and leaders in the global post-secondary environment;
  • rapidly identifying, testing, deploying, supporting, assessing, and retiring technologies, processes, and ideas to build on what works - optimizing our impact on learners and the communities we serve; and
  • harnessing our creativity and knowledge to reach new heights in inclusive and digitally enabled distributed learning and research.

Moving Beyond Place: Transforming Communities Through Belonging And Relationships

From its home in the town of Athabasca, our University shapes and enables mutually supportive communities, regardless of where those communities exist. We recognize that learning and research strengthen and are strengthened by the communities in which they are embedded. When a learner joins Athabasca University, they become lifelong members of our learning community. Through engagement with each other, learners and employees of Athabasca University create purposeful, meaningful, and safe communities. We welcome new members and engage with existing ones so that individuals and groups can grow and give back to their communities. We recognize and support a geographically diverse team and demonstrate leadership in connecting individuals and teams regardless of their location.

In moving beyond the now, we will transform lives and communities by:

  • building and fostering belonging and relationships regardless of location;
  • engaging with and strengthening our own community, other educational institutions, and industry partners; and
  • building collaborative and coordinated environments and networks to achieve excellence and greater understanding.

Moving Beyond The Now: Making Change through Agility And Adaptability

In the context of a globally connected and rapidly changing environment, our capacity to be agile and adaptable is fundamental to our success and the success of our learners. Excellence in our technology, operations, and support systems is essential to creating an institution that can respond to change quickly and effectively. Our community creates, monitors, and supports continuous improvement. Through meaningful partnerships, our learning and work environments will come alive and exceed the expectations of learners and our staff.

In moving beyond the now, we will transform lives and communities by:

  • streamlining and embracing simplicity in our internal processes; and
  • focusing on continuous improvement in all that we do.

Moving Beyond Open: Bridging Open and Inclusion

We are proud to be Canada’s Open University. We lead the way in creating access and accessibility to quality distributed learning. We focus on issues that are important to learners and their communities. We are a flexible partner to learners so that they and their communities can achieve their greatest potential. We create strong connections and enduring relationships with diverse learners with equally diverse needs and goals. To move beyond open does not mean to leave it behind. Rather, we build on it to realize the full potential of bridging open and inclusion. We know that by being open, the quality and rigor of our learning environment is second to none.

By moving beyond open, we will transform lives and communities by:

  • systemically removing barriers to create a culture of inclusion in which all learners are welcome;
  • provide personalized and flexible opportunities that fulfill our learners’ personal goals and optimize our social impact in communities;
  • connecting and making available the knowledge, skills, abilities, ideas, and perspectives of diverse individuals through the highest quality teaching and open scholarship;
  • supporting multiple means of representation, engagement, and expression in our teaching and research endeavours, and in our relationships with others; and
  • leading the way in digital accessibility and inclusivity.

Up Next Our Foundations

Our Foundations

Reciprocity

Reciprocity is the equitable maintenance of harmony and balance in the exchange of knowledge, ideas, services, and support between peoples, the land, and all our relations, including creatures and plants. Reciprocity is a way of being and a way of living, it is the central philosophy and tenet of Indigenous peoples worldview that ensures humility, respect, and honour.

kwayskahsatsowin (Conciliation)

We commit to learning from and working in partnership with Indigenous peoples, nations, and communities in our conciliation journey. As part of this journey, we seek to understand how we can more effectively support Indigenous learner success.

Up Next Impact on our Learners, Research, and the University

Our Strategic Directions’ Impact on our Learners, Research, and the University

Beyond Open

  • Learners promote and embody inclusion
  • All learners are welcome
  • Learners curate their own journey to achieve their personal learning goals
  • Social impact is optimized
  • We are a leader in digital accessibility

Beyond Now

  • Leadership in quality, innovative, and research informed open, digital, and distributed learning
  • Our courses, programs, and credentials respond to learner and societal needs in real time

Beyond Norm

  • New pedagogies, ideas, technologies, and processes that support learning and research are identified, tested, deployed, assessed, and retired in real time

Beyond Place

  • Learners feel part of and supported by the AU community, even when they are not active students
  • Enabling and connecting rural, remote, and urban learners on a large scale

Beyond Open

  • Our University reflects a culture of inclusion
  • Indigenous knowledge, education, and oral traditions are supported, protected, and sustained

Beyond Now

  • People focused and lean processes and procedures
  • AU leaders, teams, and individuals rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges with a lens to continuous improvement in all that we do

Beyond Norm

  • Culture of innovation and creativity in action

Beyond Place

  • Partnerships that enable the creation of value
  • A learning and research space respectful of the knowledge and values of Indigenous peoples through cultural affirmation and academic excellence

Beyond Open

  • We are known for open scholarship, data, and scholarly achievements
  • Learners impact their community through research

Beyond Now

  • Adaptable and innovative research areas of excellence that optimize social, economic, and environmental impact

Beyond Norm

  • Reputation for scholarly activity, dissemination, and impact reflecting our comprehensive research university status

Beyond Place

  • Reputation for balanced disciplinary and interdisciplinary research that optimizes social, economic, and environmental impact on communities

Up Next Our Institutional Priority Outcomes

Our Institutional Priority Outcomes

Critical Actions

  • Financial balance based on accurate and timely data
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD
  • Digital stability, reliability, security, and recoverability
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD
  • Rapid and responsive technology Governance structure
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD
  • Baseline course and program mix
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD
  • Organizational communications framework
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD

Priority Outcomes

  • A Teaching and Learning Framework that enables lifelong self-paced distributed learning
    • TL
  • National enrollment growth through pathways, credential completion, and non-credit offerings
    • TL
  • A sustainable and adaptable course, program, and credential mix based in a lean and data-informed development, renewal, and retirement process
    • TL
  • A data-informed, responsive, and adaptable student services framework
    • TL
  • An Integrated planning, execution, assessment and accountability cycle
    • AU
  • A defined strategic human resource system
    • AU
  • Lean and people first processes and governance
    • AU
  • Systems based coordination, collaboration, cooperation, and communication in our projects and activities
    • AU
  • Technology, land, and real-estate plan that supports semi-virtual organization
    • AU
  • An active values and cultural framework
    • AU
  • Enabled talent framework for employees and leadership
    • AU
  • Digital strategy
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD
  • A supported multi-stage innovation process
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD
  • Research strategy
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD

Priority Outcomes

  • Student environment that supports and connects students with diverse learning goals
    • TL
  • Diversified credit/non-credit learning opportunities, credentials, and complementary offerings
    • TL
  • Explored international enrollment growth
    • TL
  • nukskahtowin (meeting place)
    • AU
    • TL
  • Campus Alberta partnerships that strengthen the system for learners and funders
    • AU
    • TL
  • Technology optimization through configuration and interoperability of relevant core systems
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD
  • A 50th year domestic & international campaign
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD
  • Optimized student affordability in new tuition, fee, and financial support model
    • AU
    • TL
  • Purposeful and supported semi-virtual organizational structure through technology, infrastructure, and social processes
    • AU
  • A scalable and sustainable open scholarship framework
    • RD
  • A business continuity environment for core elements of AU
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD

Priority Outcomes

  • Adaptable and data-informed strategic & sustainable credential, program, and course mix that includes modularized and stackable learning outcomes in undergraduate and graduate offerings in both credit and non-credit environments grounded in the highest standards of quality and rigour
    • TL
  • Values-based culture that recognizes AU’s I-CARE values along with a culture of inclusion, belonging, resilience, innovation, continuous improvement, and engagement
    • TL
  • Adaptable & data-informed student services
    • TL
  • Personalized on-line and off-line learning model that is flexible, scalable, and affordable to the learner and to AU
    • AU
    • TL
  • Diversified, stabilized, and predictable revenue streams
    • AU
    • TL
    • RD
  • A consolidated and integrated data platform that enables real-time monitoring, decision making, and reporting
    • AU
    • TL
  • Scalable and sustainable open scholarship environment for research data, scholarly activity, and dissemination that optimizes the peer and external adoption of AU research as well as optimizes social, economic, and environmental impact
    • RD

We pledge to