Higher Education

SARA and ACICS-accredited Institutions

ACICS (the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools) is a national accrediting body that has been in the news for the well-publicized failures of some of the institutions it has accredited and accusations of lax accrediting practices. The US Department of Education has removed ACICS from its list of "recognized" accreditors, but a lawsuit over that action is pending in the courts. In the meantime, ACICS-accredited schools have 18 months to obtain accreditation by another recognized accreditor in order to maintain the eligibility of their students to participate in federal financial aid programs.

 

Confusion about U.S. Department of Education State Authorization Rules

As many of you know, the Department recently released new rules on the state authorization of distance education. Those rules contain what we and many others have viewed as a troubling definition of a "state authorization reciprocity agreement."
 

Recent conversations that our friend and colleague Russ Poulin of WCET has had with Department staff indicate that we're misinterpreting what they intended with that definition.
 

New York Approves Regulations - Moving Ahead with SARA

At the September 13, 2016 meeting of the NYS Board of Regents, New York State’s participation in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) was approved.  This action has New York institutions and students one step closer to enjoying the benefits of SARA participation such as providing set quality standards and safeguards, improving consumer protection, creating a more efficient provision of distance education to a broader market, enhancing the overall quality of distance education, and reducing rapidly growing institutional costs that can be passed along to students.

 

New FAQ Added

If an institution participates in SARA, does that mean it must accept transfer credits from other SARA institutions?

No.  SARA has no impact on an institution’s policies and decisions about the acceptance of transfer credit. Those remain at the discretion of the institution, subject only to relevant state laws or requirements.

Updates to Policies and Standards

After extensive consultation with regional compact staff and others, under authority delegated by the NC-SARA Board the executive director has approved several modifications to the NC-SARA Policies and Standards. They are as follows:  1) clarification of the definition of “supervised field experience” (Section 1, item 26); 2) clarification of SARA states’ application of ”requirements, standards, fees, procedures,” and SARA states’ ability to apply general purpose laws relating to consumer protection, fraudulent activities and related matters (Section 2.5.g-h); 3)policies and procedures for SARA institutions that change their home state (Section 3.4); 4) clarified language on the limitations of SARA (Section 3.7) and 5) the use of the word “approved” in regard to SARA institutions (Section 3.14).

 

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