What we examined
The Government of Alberta wants Alberta’s 26 post-secondary institutions to collaborate and they have done so in several cases. We audited three non-academic collaborative initiatives to assess if the institutions had well-designed systems to plan, govern, implement and sustain the initiatives:
- Apply Alberta—an online system that allows undergraduate students to apply to any institution and to request and transfer transcripts
- Lois Hole Campus Alberta Digital Library—an online repository of commercially licensed electronic learning resources that gives students at participating institutions access to the same resources
- IT management (ITM) control framework—a set of IT policies, procedures and templates to help institutions implement effective controls over their information technology systems
We assessed how the three initiatives fit into the minister’s plans for institutions to work together to provide learning opportunities for Albertans in a cost-effective and sustainable way. Campus Alberta is a coordinated and integrated system approach wherein institutions collaborate to develop and deliver high quality learning opportunities. We identified lessons and critical success factors to improve future Campus Alberta initiatives.
What we found
The department and institutions implemented all three initiatives several years ago, with significant effort from staff at the institutions. However, we concluded that the department and institutions do not have well-designed systems to plan, govern, implement and sustain collaborative initiatives. With better systems and processes for collaboration, service to students will improve and make the advanced education system more efficient, effective and sustainable.
We have findings at two levels:
- collaboration generally
- specific collaborative initiatives
What needs to be done
Campus Alberta Strategic Directions Committee, should:
- develop and communicate a strategic or business plan that clearly defines:
- the outcomes the department expects Campus Alberta to achieve
- the initiatives needed to achieve those outcomes
- the resources and funding needed to carry out the plan
- develop relevant performance measures and targets to assess if outcomes are met
- publicly report the results and the cost of the initiatives
- review and clarify the accountability structures to govern collaborative initiatives
- develop processes and guidance to ensure institutions effectively manage collaborative projects and their risks
Why this is important to Albertans
Alberta’s 21 public post-secondary institutions spend about $4.8 billion annually. They contribute to the government’s priorities of building a knowledge-based economy and improving the social well-being of Albertans. The government wants these institutions to collaborate in an effort to improve services to students and to make the advanced education system more efficient, effective and sustainable.