Negotiators Tussle Over Proposed Rule to Compel State Scrutiny of Online Ed

Colleges pushed back on Wednesday against the U.S. Education Department’s efforts to expand state oversight of online education, calling the agency’s proposed “state authorization” rule a “bureaucratic nightmare.”

Speaking here at a negotiated rule-making session, campus officials argued that the draft rule, which would require colleges to seek approval to operate in every state where they enroll students online, would place an undue burden on both the colleges and the states.

Consumer advocates applauded the proposal, saying it would strengthen protections for online students. The advocates argued that too many states have been lax in their oversight of distance education, leaving their residents vulnerable to shoddy programs.

In the fall of 2012, more than 2.6 million students were enrolled exclusively in distance-education courses, while 2.8 million others were taking some distance-education courses.

Under the rule, which the department released last week, colleges would have to provide proof of authorization to award federal aid to online students in other states. Colleges could demonstrate compliance through participation in a state reciprocity agreement, but they could not claim approval on the basis of a state exemption. <Read more.>

Via Kelly Field, The Chronicle of Higher Education.