By Ryan Pike
Students applying to Alberta universities will soon have fewer hoops to jump through, thanks to a streamlined application process set to launch in the fall.
Apply Alberta is a program that will process applications to Alberta’s 21 post-secondary institutions through a government-run website designed to centralize the process. Advanced Education and Technology Minister Doug Horner noted that while the initiative was originally driven by universities, the passage of the Access to the Future Act in 2005 allowed the provincial government to get involved.
“When I became minister a couple of years ago and I saw what they were doing, it became pretty clear to me that you could turn this into an application that could be tremendously useful for students,” said Horner. “Both in respect of figuring out what institution they should be going to or should be applying to, but also in insuring that you don’t have to fill out the forms 15 times.”
University of Calgary Students’ Union vice-president academic Pamela Weatherbee said that the introduction of Apply Alberta will make the application process easier for incoming students, although the system may take some getting used to.
“I think it’s a really easy service for students to use,” said Weatherbee. “They’re going to have to communicate well with incoming students and high school students [and] transfer students.”
Weatherbee admitted that while Apply Alberta will reduce student stress by providing one location to apply, costs will not be reduced initially. Horner said that the user costs of Apply Alberta are in line with a similar system in Ontario. Weatherbee noted that existing fees will be consolidated, but recommends looking at ways to reduce costs in the future.
“I think [one application fee] would be more beneficial instead of a student coming in and paying fees for each school still,” said Weatherbee. “I understand right now that’s how they’re doing it, but in the future it’d be nice to see that cleaned up for students, too.”
Horner said that Apply Alberta’s initial roll-out will have basic functionality– applicants will be able to create a profile, apply to schools and send their transcripts out through a single source rather than being processed separately. However, more features will be added pending user feedback.
“We serve three clients in our system: students, taxpayers and society, and we need feedback from our clients if we’re going to provide the best possible service,” said Horner.