Magazine article University Business

Tackling Multistate Regulation of Distance Education

Magazine article University Business

Tackling Multistate Regulation of Distance Education

Article excerpt

ONLINE LEARNING IS BECOMING MORE widely accepted by the day. That acceptance brings providers higher enrollments but it also means more encounters with state regulations. Higher education is subject to individual state regulations, which makes sense for place-based providers but can be problematic for online institutions. Having even one enrolled student subjects an online provider to out-of-state regulations.

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"The problem is, the regulatory framework in higher education is not appropriate to a 21st-century institution," says John F. Ebersole, president of Albany, N.Y.-based Excelsior College. In October, the Presidents' Forum (http://presidents forum.excelsior.edu), a collaborative of more than 150 institutions offering distance higher education, conducted a pane[ to discuss how to straighten out the maze of regulations.

The panel developed four goals. The first is to reduce bureaucracy. "There is a lot of data required," says Ebersole. "Many trees have died because states ask us for all the syllabuses of our classes."

The second is to increase mutual recognition and reciprocity. "If you are authorized to operate in a highly regulated state such as New York, what do the other states need to know that hasn't already been asked? …

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