Presidents’ Forum Meets to Discuss SARA Implementation

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By Michael Lesczinski and Raven Short, Excelsior Life News Staff Intern

Beginning today in Indianapolis, The President’s Forum and the Council of State Governments, will meet to discuss the steps to establish the State Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), announced on April 11 by the Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education led by former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley.

Excelsior College, which founded the Presidents’ Forum, has worked with the Council of State Governments to develop SARA under a Lumina Foundation grant. Paul Shiffman, executive director of the Presidents’ Forum participated as a member of the Riley commission.

SARA intends to make state authorization more efficient, more uniform in regard to necessary and reasonable standards of practice that span states, and more effective in dealing with quality and integrity issues.

State team members comprised of policymakers and higher education leadership attending the symposium will explore, discuss and identify steps a state would need to take to participate in reciprocity, including anticipated state by state regulatory and statutory revisions that may be necessary to achieve the objectives of SARA.

The Presidents’ Forum, established in 2004, remains a leading advocate on issues of importance to online higher education. The Forum contends interstate reciprocity in recognition of institutional authorizations would broaden access to accredited online degree programs, ensure strong consumer protection and reduce barriers to student access and has pursued an agreement through a grant from Lumina Foundation.

Within the past few years, the Forum met with state regulators on changes to the Title IV rules which would have sharply curbed access to high quality, accredited online college education.