AZUN program to be terminated in July

UNIVERSITY ONLINE NETWORK: Vy Nguyen, an international student at ASU, puts in extra hours at Information Commons on the Downtown Phoenix campus for her online class. AZUN, a program that allows students to take online courses through the three Arizona universities with no longer exist after July 1st. (Photo by Sierra Smith)

The Arizona Universities Network online degree program connecting ASU, NAU and UA will no longer be available for students after July 1.

The program currently allows students at one state university to take courses online from the other two state universities without increased tuition costs.

After AZUN’s termination, students taking courses outside of their home institution will have to pay separate tuition costs, said Christen White, AZUN campus coordinator for ASU.

The program will be discontinued after the spring semester because of budget cuts, said Pam Torbico, campus coordinator for NAU.

The Arizona Board of Regents distributes the voter-protected Technology and Research Initiative Funds, which supports AZUN, among other programs.

The annual allocation of these funds given to NAU to manage the AZUN program has declined since NAU took managerial control in 2005, according to an ABOR report.

The allocation of TRIF in the current fiscal year is $1.6 million, as compared to $2.8 million in 2005.

“The Arizona Board of Regents chose to reduce funding for AZUN because online options for students have increased dramatically since AZUN’s inception about 10 years ago,” NAU spokesman Tom Bauer said.

The network was originally conceived by ABOR to provide online degree opportunities for students through a consortium of the three state universities, Bauer said.

The goal of the AZUN program was to prevent barriers among the three state universities, said White, ASU campus coordinator.

White said students across the three university campuses benefited most from the program during the time when online programs were growing.

The program also encouraged the individual growth of the three universities’ online courses, White said.

There is now a greater variability and availability of online courses offered at the three universities than before, Bauer said.

A final decision about discontinuing AZUN took place at ABOR’s December meeting.

After July 1, each university will be responsible for its own online programs, Bauer said.

Reach the reporter at cksilves@asu.edu