Higher Education Opportunity Act
As required by law, before the Department of Education can adopt new regulations it needs to enter into negotiated rule making, where representatives of stakeholder groups "negotiate" with a Department representative. Five negotiating panels were created to follow up on the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), and I had the opportunity to serve as the primary negotiator representing regional accreditation on one of these panels. Unlike the failed negotiations of 2007, there were representatives from ACE, NAICU and major educational groups included, and the tone of these negotiations was far more civil and effective than in 2007. Sixteen issues were negotiated, some very intensely, and we were able to achieve consensus on all 16 (meaning that all 11 primary negotiators agreed to the language of the 16 regulations.)
The proposed regulations will go into effect July 1, 2010, after the Department of Education circulates them for comment later this summer. They should be published soon in the Federal Register, with an invitation for public comment. If you have any questions regarding them, please contact me at rwolff [at] wascsenior [dot] org.
Several of the regulations will require the adoption of new policies by the Commission. Among other things, these new policies will address authentication of students enrolled in distance education programs, changes to the requirements for teach out agreements should an institution or an off-campus location close, and monitoring of institutions between visits. At its June meeting, the Commission authorized its executive committee to review and approve draft policy changes that will be circulated to the region for comment in the fall.