Alberta walks back on plan to relocate university staff

The Alberta government has backed off on its threat to cut funding to Athabasca University unless the institution agrees to relocate hundreds of employees to the small Canadian town that shares its name, with the minister in charge of post-secondary education signalling that he is willing to negotiate the proposed residency target, writes Carrie Tait for The Globe and Mail.

Alberta wants Athabasca University, an online university with roughly 40,000 students, to prop up Athabasca’s economy by moving employees to the rural region. In a 29 July letter, the province demanded 65% of the institution’s staff be based in Athabasca by the 2024-25 academic year, according to Athabasca University (AU) President Peter Scott. This would force AU to relocate 500 jobs to the community, on top of the 295 employees already in the region, he said.

Scott resisted Alberta’s earlier demand that AU produce a plan to bolster the local economy by luring employees to Athabasca, which has about 2,805 residents. The July letter escalated the fight; Scott said the government’s new proposal links CA$41 million (US$32 million) in annual funding to the residency target. But Demetrios Nicolaides, Alberta’s advanced education minister, said to The Globe and Mail that the 65% residency goal is flexible.
Full report on The Globe and Mail site

See also this Canadian Press story:
Full report on the CBC News site