House to Investigate ‘State Authorization’

Tomorrow, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training will hold a hearing titled “Education Regulations: Federal Overreach into Academic Affairs.”  We’ve heard that ‘state authorization’ is one of the issues that they will be addressing.

John Ebersole, president of Excelsior College, and Ralph Wolff, president of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, are among the witnesses.  Both of them are well-versed on this issue.  We’ve sent both of them and the chief staffer for the Subcommittee additional information on this issue. Inside Higher Ed will probably run an opinion piece by John Ebersole on Friday morning.  While they will be great representatives on this issue, I wish they would have included a public institution on the witness list.

Call to Action!Picture of top of caitol with words "Advocacy Issue" on top of it

Check to see if you have a representative on the Subcommittee or on the larger Committee on Education and the Workforce.   If you do, I’d suggest giving them a call or sending them a note prior to the hearing, if possible.  If you can’t contact them prior to the hearing, then do so soon, while the issue is fresh in their minds.

Impact Stories

Last month I asked for short stories about the possible negative impact that implementing the state authorization regulations on July 1, 2011 will have on students.  Thank you to those of you who responded.  We compiled and categorized the responses.  To summarize, if implemented on July 1, likely impacts include:

  • Decreased access to programs – as institutions will choose not to serve students in states with high fees or complex processes.
  • Increased costs will be passed along to students – due to increased staffing needed to meet requirements and increased fees. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities estimate that it will cost $5.5 million in fees alone to meet the requirement in the first year.
  • Decreased access to faculty – rules in some states require approval if you have an adjunct faculty person in the state.  If the institution decides not to seek authorization in one of those states, it will no longer be able to employ faculty from those states.
  • Adverse impact for students in select workforce areas – Some colleges offer programs that are targeted to specific industries (Huntington Junior College in Captioning for the Deaf & Bismarck State College in Power Plant Technology).

Do you have more stories?  More impacts?

Final ‘Starter List’ Released

On March 8th we posted this document.  We’ve already heard from a few states giving us EVEN MORE updates.  Ugh!  You can see why we’re getting out of this business.  We’ll post an addendum on the ‘starter list’ page periodically, but we will not be updating the document.  Thank you again to the Southern Regional Education Board, American Distance Education Consortium, and the University of Wyoming for partnering with WCET in creating the list.

State Authorization Network Moving Forward

I invite you to check out our plan for a State Authorization Network.  We have seven systems or institutions committed to participate.  We opened membership to institutions, as they were keen to join us.

Online Education Being Lumped In with ‘For-Profits’

As I was writing the blog this morning, I was watching the tweets coming from the Senate Hearing titled:  “Bridgepoint Education, Inc.: A Case study in For-Profit Education and Oversight.”  At times it appears that “online education” is being seen as synonymous (in a negative way) with the “bad actors” in for-profit education.  An unfortunate trend that we’ve previously seen in these hearings.

Good luck!

Russ Poulin
Deputy Director, Research & Analysis
WCET – WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies
State Approval page:
Twitter:  @wcet_info      State Approval Hashtag: #stateapp

Join WCET!  Support our work on this issue.

2 replies on “State approval: House Hearing, Call to Action, Impacts, & Starter List”

Ed Klonoski, president of Charter Oak State College, wrote me to remind me that he was asked to testify and Charter Oak is a public institution. Ed had to decline because of a commitment testifying to the Connecticut’s legislature.

Ed would have been great. I still wish they could have found another public, but am glad that he clarified that one was invited.


I believe others not on the witness list were interviewed in preparation for tomorrow’s hearing. I know of one senior level administrator from the University of Massachusetts system who was interviewed for this. So, if not right in the room tomorrow, I suspect that the public institutions are at least indirectly represented.

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