Athabasca University (AU) is a Canadian public research university that primarily operates through online distance education. Founded in 1970, it is one of four comprehensive academic and research universities in Alberta, and was the first Canadian university to specialize in distance education. Athabasca University was created by the Alberta government in 1970 as part of an expansion of higher education to cope with rising enrolment at the time. In the late 1960s, the University of Alberta (U of A) had long been established, the University of Calgary was created through new legislation, and an Order in Council had created the University of Lethbridge. In 1967, the Manning government announced its intention to establish a fourth public university, but this would be delayed by three years as the government considered different proposals. The U of A wanted to expand rather than see another university open in Edmonton to compete with it. One proposal favoured establishing a Christian university instead of a secular one. Another early suggestion was an "Alberta academy" that would take credits students had earned at multiple universities, evaluate them for transfer, and perhaps award degrees. A Department of Education ad hoc group favoured the establishment of a fourth public university. More information...

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