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Professional Development Fund

Message from the CUPE Professional Development Fund Committee

As a CUPE 3911 member, you can apply to receive funding to support Professional Development activities. The PD Fund is administered by a committee of elected CUPE 3911 members who receive and process the applications on the Research Centre’s ROMEO system and decide on the allocation of awards. AU is then responsible for effecting the payment of the awarded funds through reimbursement of approved expenses using the Chrome River system.

Please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel and most mass and in-person events are not eligible for funding at this time, but you should consider these options:

  • Events held virtually are eligible for funding.
  • If the event is far enough in the future so there is a good possibility it might happen (in some form), then you can submit an application now as a place-holder. Funding will be dependent on AU travel policy at all times.

As of July 2021, AU will maintain restrictions on university-related travel for the foreseeable future:

“While mandatory restrictions in our province have been lifting and many organizations are making plans for a return to normal or returning to some form of place-based working arrangements this fall, our decision is to continue with all current COVID-19 restrictions. … AU will open up a formal process to consider exceptions where a critical operational impact can be demonstrated. These exception requests must be initiated by the appropriate Administrative Council representative and will be reviewed by the COVID Planning Committee for approval.” (Update on AU’s COVID-19 restrictions, 27 July 2021).

With more and more events being planned for virtual attendance, there are many avenues for continued participation in Professional Development activities for which this Fund can help defray costs. We encourage you to take advantage of this union-bargained benefit for members.

See below for more information on the rules governing what activities and events qualify for funding, the amounts available, and timelines for application.

Who can apply?

As per Article 27 of the Collective Agreement between Athabasca University Board of Governors and CUPE Local 3911 (link above and scroll to p. 50 and Schedule C on pp. 64-66), funds are available to support individual or group activities that foster the professional development of CUPE Local 3911 members that directly enhances their CUPE work at AU.

Funding is available to:

 CUPE Local 3911 members who fall under the CUPE Collective Agreement

  • Members who are currently employed or on the first 12 months of a layoff period
  • Members who are currently providing alternate AUFA coverage up to and including six (6) consecutive months

What kinds of activities are funded?

The fund supports a variety of activities, but all must directly connect to your CUPE work for Athabasca University and yield a benefit to your teaching. Applicants must clearly demonstrate in their applications how the proposed activity (e.g., conference, training course, research, other) does yield a benefit to their work as a Tutor, Marker, or Academic Expert.

The fund has primary purposes of reimbursing professional development costs, such as registration fees for members’ attendance at conferences, training activities, and workshops relevant to their subject area and to the courses they teach at AU

Some examples of funded activities include:

  • Participation as a learner in a course, workshop, conference, or program that relates to your subject area or to the development of skills that will improve your CUPE work
  • Participation in activities that will enhance your skills/knowledge of adult and/or distance education
  • Presentation of papers, participation in poster sessions or panels related to your AU subject area or to AU’s mission
  • expenses associated with research, in some cases

How much funding is available?

Funding amounts are as follows:

  • Up to $1,500 for activities within Canada and up to $2,000 for international activities
  • The fund will support one international application per member per AU Financial Year
  • All subsequent applications will be funded to a maximum of $1,500 per applicant

What kinds of expenses are not eligible?

Please note that as of April 2014 this fund will no longer cover tuition for Undergraduate or Graduate courses. AU courses can be partially funded under the separate “tuition waiver” provision (Article 21) of the Collective Agreement. Other expenses that are not eligible include:

  • Personal development courses
  • Recreational programs
  • Course development or revision activities
  • Activities wholly funded by other employers
  • Research activities not related to distance education and/or yielding a benefit to the work conducted by CUPE Local 3911 members
  • Purchase of equipment, books or software (these types of expenses can be partially funded by each member’s allowance as per Article 27.04); please note this is a separate and individually-based allowance that the PD Fund Committee does not administer, with member claims processed through the Chrome River expense management system.

How to apply

Applications for funding are made by completing and submitting an application form on the AU Research Centre’s ROMEO system.

Calls for applications are announced four times a year – summer, fall, winter, and spring. The Call is emailed to all members about one month prior to the deadline for the competitions and contains instructions for applicants. The quarterly competitions close on the scheduled dates that follow:

March 1st           1st Quarter  (activities taking place April 1 – June 30)

June 1st              2nd Quarter  (activities taking place July 1 – September 30)

September 1st   3rd Quarter   (activities taking place October 1 – December 31)

December 1st    4th Quarter   (activities taking place January 1 – March 31)

CUPE 3911 members are encouraged to apply in the quarter before the activity, although applications for the current quarter or the earlier quarter (i.e. six months before the activity) will be considered. Activities that have happened more than three months previous to the application will not be considered.

Successful applicants

Once the Professional Development Committee has reviewed your application, you will be notified if you did or did not receive funding. Successful applicants might not receive the full amount they requested. They must submit a brief report within 30 days of the end of their activity, which may be summarized to share with others members. Complete a claim for reimbursement of approved expenses using the Chrome River system within 30 days of the end of the activity. Link to Chrome River through MyAU and enter the HR & Finance Portal.

  • All PD Fund applications are to be submitted online via the ROMEO system.
  • For instructions on how to submit an application using ROMEO, please click here.
  • If you have questions regarding using the ROMEO system, please contact the Research Centre at
  • Be contact cupeinstructors@gmail with any questions.

We look forward to receipt of your CUPE PD Fund applications!

Leigh Brownhill, Mark Dimirsky (chair), Cal Hauserman, Vanee Narayanan,

CUPE PD Fund Committee