Midwest is first region to have all states on board for state authorization reciprocity - Wisconsin approved for participation in SARA

Posted: Monday, August 15, 2016 - 10:11

WI Commissioners receive M-SARA AcknowledgmentMinneapolis, MN — Wisconsin has been approved by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) as the eleventh state to join the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA). Wisconsin joins Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Ohio. Nationally, Wisconsin is the 41st state plus the District of Columbia to join SARA. South Dakota, also a MHEC member state, joined SARA through the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

SARA is a nationwide initiative of states that will make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines and make it easier for states to regulate and institutions to participate in interstate distance education.

“We are pleased to have our entire region benefitting from the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement,” said Larry Isaak, MHEC president. “We can now focus our efforts on supporting institutions and educational opportunities for our Midwest students.” He added, “Wisconsin is a true example of collaboration. The Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Wisconsin Technical College System and the University of Wisconsin System worked closely to provide the best outcome for the institutions.”

MHEC's Commission Chair David Pearce said, "We credit our Midwestern state governors, legislators and higher education leaders for their efforts to make SARA operational in their states." Pearce is the chair of the Senate Education Committee for the Missouri General Assembly.

The Distance Learning Authorization Board (DLAB) will serve as the state “portal” entity for SARA. DLAB’s main responsibilities include:

  • Verifying and approving applications from Wisconsin institutions that wish to participate in SARA;
  • Resolving complaints from out of state students against Wisconsin institutions if those complaints rise above the institutional level;
  • Supporting and informing participating schools in Wisconsin of changes and developments in SARA; and
  • Communicating and working with other state portal entities regarding complaints by Wisconsin students against SARA institutions in other SARA states.

Dr. Morna Foy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System and current chair of the DLAB, stated “The creation of DLAB is another example of strong collaboration between Wisconsin’s higher education stakeholders. Wisconsin’s participation will expand high-quality student learning opportunities provided through distance education.”

Representatives from the DLAB are already beginning to accept institutional applications to participate in M-SARA.

Dr. Rolf Wegenke, president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the longest-serving MHEC commissioner from Wisconsin, praised the Compact for its leadership in developing SARA. "M-SARA illustrates that colleges and universities can be accountable and protect students without the bureaucratic pitfalls that can stifle innovation in education."

“I am pleased that Wisconsin is joining our Midwest neighbors as a member state in SARA. Our membership in SARA will open up opportunities for students as well as save dollars and streamline the process for Wisconsin campuses offering online courses,” said State Senator Sheila Harsdorf, who is also a MHEC commissioner.

“The M-SARA collaboration opens up access to a broader array of quality, relevant distance learning courses for students. We know that this is increasingly an important element and expectation for them in their educational journeys, and we appreciate the educational partners and legislators who joined us in the effort to offer this new, expanded world of opportunities to students and their families,” said Ray Cross, University of Wisconsin System President
Additional information about SARA is available on the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements website at http://nc-sara.org/.


The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. The initiative is administered by the country’s four regional higher education compacts (MHEC, NEBHE, SREB and WICHE) and overseen by NC-SARA. States and institutions that choose to participate agree to operate under common standards and procedures, providing a more uniform and less costly regulatory environment for institutions, more focused oversight responsibilities for states and better resolution of student complaints.  www.nc-sara.org

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact is a nonprofit regional organization assisting Midwestern states in advancing higher education through interstate cooperation and resource sharing. MHEC seeks to fulfill its interstate mission through programs that expand postsecondary opportunity and success; promote inno¬vative approaches to improving institutional and system productivity; improve affordability to students and states; and enhance connectivity between higher education and the workplace. Member states are: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The New England Board of Higher Education promotes greater educational opportunities and services for the residents of New England. It works across the six New England states to engage and assist leaders in the assessment, development, and implementation of sound education practices and policies of regional significance; promote policies, programs, and best practices to assist the states in implementing important regional higher education policies; promote regional cooperation and programs that encourage the efficient use and sharing of educational resources; and provide leadership to strengthen the relationship between higher education and the economic well-being of New England.

The Southern Regional Education Board works with 16 member states to improve public educa-tion at every level, from pre-K through Ph.D. SREB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Atlanta. SREB states currently participate in SREB’s Electronic Campus Regional Reciprocity Agreement, and SREB is working closely with SARA to expand reciprocity nationwide. Member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and its 16 members work collabora-tively to expand educational access and excellence for all citizens of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy among states and institutions, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. WICHE’s members include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (the first of the U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states to participate).

Media Contact:
Mary Roberson
MHEC Director of Communications and Marketing
(612) 677-2765