The U.S. Department of Education issued final regulations of state authorization for postsecondary distance education on December 16, 2016.

The department stated that the regulations are "to improve oversight and protect more than 5.5 million distance education students at degree-granting institutions, including nearly 3 million exclusively online students, by clarifying the state authorization requirements for postsecondary distance education."* The final regulations are the result of years of complex negotiations among the Department of Education, higher education representatives, and consumer protection advocates. WCET's summary of the final regulations speaks to the complexities of coming into compliance. Russ Poulin, Director of WCET, has since been in communication with the Department of Education in an attempt to gain clarification concerning various topics in the regulations.

Of course, the incoming Trump Administration may "do away" with the entire regulation, relying on the very rarely used Congressional Review Act. The full results of that action are something we will need to follow, as this would be uncharted territory. 


We must do three things at UAB, no matter where the rollercoaster ride of the Department of Education's recent regulations ends. Our focus must be to:

  1. Document and report all students' out-of-state educational activities (i.e., clinicals, rotations, internships, practicums, co-ops, etc.).
  2. Protect UAB from "significant misrepresentation"--particularly in marketing.
  3. Create the infrastructure needed for providing professional licensure and certification (PLC) notifications, disclosures, and disclaimers.  

The good news is that these efforts will help UAB become stronger and more competitive in this rapidly changing higher education environment!


To learn more or to schedule training for you or your group, email Dr. Lisa Reburn, State Authorization Compliance Director, at, or call her at 205.934.3258.  

LisaReburn 175


*Read the full article at State Authorization of Postsecondary Distance Education, Foreign Locations.

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