ACE and a group of 17 higher education associations submitted comments Aug. 24 to the Department of Education regarding the agency's proposed regulations on state authorization requirements for postsecondary distance education.
The proposed regulations deal with states’ oversight of online courses offered by out-of-state colleges and universities, as well as state oversight of educational programs offered at foreign locations of domestic institutions.
This latest attempt from the Obama administration on state authorization follows about six years of on-again, off-again rule making. ACE and 59 other higher education associations expressed serious concerns with the first draft regulations, which were released in 2011.
The department stopped working on the regulations in 2014 after multiple sessions of negotiated rulemaking failed to reach consensus, but the process started up again in June.
The new proposed rule requires distance education programs to follow state laws governing how they become authorized to offer courses in states other than where the programs are located. However, it does not require states to conduct an active review of out-of-state institutions.
The associations’ comments express strong support for meaningful oversight of institutions and suggest options for both clarifying and improving the draft regulation.