Most professional academics realize that an individual state
licensed school of higher education meets or exceeds that states minimal requirements for licensing and that what another
state requires is irrelevant. That scenario, however is rapidly changing.
conflict between and among schools and states is not over whether they measure up to one state's criteria or
another's but whether they should be licensed in THAT state at all. The landscape has changed with the
advent of distance education giants dealing on a national level in the USA since the 60's. Today, with more and
more universities opting to teach students online, they are faced with the same dilemma distance educators faced when they
set up satellite venues for courses, seminars, and retreats in states other than their own. It is an issue of licensing in
each state coupled with a school desires to teach students online.
On the face of
it, it seems fairly clearcut. If a college offers a class in a neighboring state and the campus is located elswhere,
then the school should be licensed in that state as well. This has become the practice since the celebrated issues surrounding
the nations original University Without Walls distance provider in early 2000 when several states wanted to know why they were not seeking a license
to offer the college's courses in their states when the college had in fact been doing it for 30 years. The university
Schools considering online delivery of complete programs to students in other states must consider
the ramifications of what they are about to undertake from a licensing standpoint. The question that remains is whether or
not the school is operating without approval and thus illegally as the distance educators of old or are they able to
claim that since it is online the education is taking place back at the campus? It seems that states will find a way to tweak
it to be what the Academy suggests -- The class offered is where the student is taking it, not the campus and therefore
a state license will be required.
There are several precedents that suggest this is may be the case.
The mutual fund industry, the insurance industry, the real estate industry, the transportation industry, and
a host of other consumer active industries are required to have operating licenses in each state in the USA if they
intend to do business in that state. As a university with a pro active online program begins to acquire more and
more students from outside their on-ground base they would, it seems, be wise to license their school
in each and every state they plan to recruit and offer online programs. It would be prudent for the student therefore,
before enrolling, to ask the question of whether or not the target school they desire to attend online is licensed
in their own home state.
What's a good number of students to determine the exact crossover point where
a new school has to consider licensing in the particular student's state? If the university is not licensed but plans
to offer online courses and programs, the number enrolled to trigger the requirement would be one (1).
State Registration Requirements
Now, it seems this scenario affects online class offerings. If any college or university today intends to offer
classes online to students in states other than where the school is domiciled and/or licensed, the school, it would seem,
must seek a license to operate there in order to have their courses approved by the state's higher education
Many traditional universities with complete
online degree programs may currently be violating this looming potential requirement originally placed on distance education
providers who taught students in their states without a license. Considering that online courses do not take place on campus
but electronically in the home or location of the student, a state may have an opportunity at a potential revenue
source of unimaginable proportions if an astute legislature chose to view it from that perspective.
Hard Nosed Requirements
One state has already put something very similar
to this in practice. The State of Oregon, a state noted for its hard line state licensing and accreditation requirements
of institutions of higher learning, seeks to have all schools recruiting students in their state as licensed and registered
providers. If not, the state refuses to recognize a degree from that institution as valid for state government or professional
employment unless the school is accredited by one of the accrediting agencies approved by the US Department of Education.
In fact, using any credential from an unlicensed Oregon university is considered criminal for certain professions. Other
states are beginning to follow suit and it is only a matter of time before the states revenue analysts figure out a windfall
in the making. Academy experts believe most, if not all states, will take a similar, but perhaps less hard core