State Authorization of Distance Education

UAMS complies with federal Program Integrity standards, including those for seeking approval of state higher education agencies before the University enrolls online students in a given state.  Prior to the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), each state in the nation had a different set of standards and procedures for granting approval of education programs, so seeking approval and tracking the states for which UAMS had obtained approval to operate was challenging.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)
The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is an initiative among member states, districts and territories to establish comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs.  SARA is a compact which governs distance education activities offered across state lines; Arkansas joined in July, 2015 and UAMS was officially approved to operate under SARA in August, 2015.   Currently California is the only state that is not a member of SARA (most recent to join: Massachusetts and Puerto Rico, June, 2018).

Benefits of SARA membership include the opportunity to expand educational offerings to member-state residents, regulation of on-the-ground instruction offered by out-of-state institutions, an established student complaint resolution process, and a uniform standard for defining physical presence, applicable to all participating states and institution.

Arkansas State Authorization Network (SAN) Membership
There are three SAN partners which comprise the Arkansas SAN Membership:  the University of Arkansas System, the University of Arkansas Global Campus, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (joined June, 2018).  The purpose of the SAN membership is to provide readily available resources at reduced cost to support compliance for all U of A institutions.

Compliance for FY 2019
New data reporting regulations for distance education activities will go into effect for FY2019, which will involve coordination between Student Financial Services, the Office of the University Registrar/Enrollment Services, the Department of Institutional Research, Policy, and Accreditation, the colleges, and others across campus.  A committee will be assembled with members from these areas to help educate stakeholders about state authorization compliance, maintain and publish required disclosures via website and through student communications, help collect and review data for institutional reporting, and conduct reviews of programs leading to licensure in states in which students are enrolled.

If your area is communicating with potential distance education students about a program which leads to licensure, please contact Dana Venhaus at 296.1376 for the latest information regarding disclosure requirements.

Notice: Professional Licensure
Applicants who are applying to programs leading to licensure in states other than Arkansas must be aware of the various state professional licensure requirements. Please check licensure requirements by state at CareerOneStop or use the link below:

https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/training/find-licenses.aspx

State Authorization of Distance Education Map – as of June, 2018

Resources for State Authorization

National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC – SARA)

NC-SARA Blog

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)

WICHE Blog 

State Higher Education Executive Officers Association