It’s suddenly the dog days of August. Many people are on vacation and the beginning of a new school year is only weeks away for many institutions. Below are updates on several activities regarding the State Authorization regulations.
Lumina/Gates State Authorization Meeting
Last week I attended a meeting sponsored by the Lumina Foundation for Education and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The event focused on efforts to maintain the integrity of the state regulatory process while easing the burden on institutions in complying. Representatives from a wide variety of institutions, national higher education organization, regional compacts, and the U.S. Department of Education participated.
Even with the recent court finding, there was consensus that this was still an important issue. Absent the federal regulations, the state regulations are still in place.
The quote of the day regarding the authorization process in one state was: “I have gone to a proctologist and felt less exposed.” Beyond that bon mot, I am able to report on a few of the discussion items at that meeting.
The Department of Education (USDOE) and the APSCU Law Suit
As you will recall, the District Court of the District of Columbia recently vacated the ‘state authorization’ regulation on procedural grounds. The USDOE believes that they have a good case for appeal and are working with the Department of Justice to weigh options. They will decide on their course of action in the next month or two.
Model State Compact from the Presidents’ Forum and Council of State Governments
The Lumina Foundation funded the Presidents’ Forum of Excelsior College and the Council of State Governments to create model language for a proposed interstate compact. It is hoped that such an agreement would meet the needs of regulators while easing the burden on institutions. The first round of work has been completed and the next stage is to convene a ‘drafting team’ to turn the research outcomes into language for the compact. The Council of State Governments received much input on the process from the participants. The final compact language is probably about a year away. States would then have to decide whether or not to join the compact.
Distance Education Commission
The Association of Public Land-grant Universities (APLU) and a few other organizations proposed a new group to study this issue. From the draft document distributed at the meeting, the outcome is as follows:
The commission should recommend proposals for the state and federal level to deal broadly and in a more or less permanent manner with this regulatory matter. This will almost certainly involve at least recommending a model regulatory law, but no doubt include much more than that.
If possible, these recommendations should be broadly agreed upon within the academic community, the states and the federal government. It is important that the process begin promptly so as to capitalize on a singular focus of attention on these issues created by the Department’s new regulation.
Peter McPherson, president of APLU, told me yesterday that Sloan-C is providing funding to this Commission.
Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus
Although not on the agenda, Bruce Chaloux provided an update on his attempt to renew the Electronic Campus agreement among the SREB states. The updated agreement would allow for reciprocity as long as the institution offering the distance course is: a) a public institution in an SREB state, b) is authorized by that state, and c) adheres to SREB’s Principles of Good Practice. The agreement needed to be renewed and updated to meet changing federal and state expectations, but is nearly completed.
Apart from the work on interstate agreements, there are a couple survey that are now out in the field.
UPCEA / WCET State Authorization Survey
We were often asked by collegiate personnel, the press, and policy makers, “what are colleges doing about state authorization?” The University Professional Continuing Education Association and WCET decided to send out a survey to obtain more information on that question. Preliminary results are in and we will be delivering a report and hosting a webcast on the results later this month.
SHEEO Survey of State Regulators
The State Higher Education Executive Officers organization is committed to creating an authoritative list of state regulators and their regulations. The survey is out and results will be published this fall. If some results are ready earlier, they may release the results in batches.
While it is August, there is still much work being done on state authorization. I hope that you are having fun on your vacation!!
Deputy Director, WCET
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Photo credit: Morgue File,