Kansas and Missouri join SARA, acknowledgment with Nebraska highlights of annual meeting

Posted: Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 14:50

Milwaukee, WI — During the annual business meeting of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), commissioners approved Kansas and Missouri as the fourth and fifth states to join the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA). Kansas and Missouri join Indiana, North Dakota, and Nebraska, which were approved earlier this year. 

“This is such an exciting time at the Compact with more states becoming a part of SARA,” said Mr. Larry Isaak, MHEC president. “We expect to receive more state applications by year end and the total number of states nationally to join the agreement is likely to be twenty by that time.”

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. The effort is funded by a $3 million grant from Lumina Foundation, a $200,000 grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and fees paid by institutions.

"We believe that the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) will help reduce the cost of providing online instruction, broaden course offerings for Kansans, and enhance interstate cooperation," said Dr. Andy Tompkins, president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents. 

The Kansas Board of Regents will serve as the state “portal” agency for SARA. The Board coordinates the state’s 32 public higher education institutions (six state universities, one municipal university, nineteen community colleges, and six technical colleges) along with administering the state’s student financial aid, adult education, high school equivalency, and career and technical education programs, while also regulating all out-of-state and private postsecondary institutions who wish to operate in Kansas. 

“The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement puts important measures in place that will help expand higher education opportunities for Missouri students. SARA will enable us to streamline the process of offering online education for our state’s colleges and universities and strengthen our oversight of online education programs,” said Dr. David Russell, Missouri commissioner of higher education.

Serving as Missouri’s “portal” agency is the Missouri Department of Higher Education which serves more than 450,000 students through 13 public four-year universities, 20 public two-year colleges, one public two-year technical college, 25 independent colleges and universities and more than 155 proprietary and private career schools.

Representatives from the Kansas Board of Regents, Missouri Department of Higher Education, and the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education were acknowledged during the meeting as the newest SARA portal agencies. The Nebraska portal agency started accepting institutional participation applications in August, the Kansas portal starts accepting them today, and Missouri agency will become operational in mid-December.

About NC-SARA, MHEC, NEBHE, SREB, WICHE and Lumina Foundation

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. www.mhec.org

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. www.nebhe.org 

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. www.sreb.org

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). www.wiche.edu

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025. For more information logon to www.luminafoundation.org