West Virginia joins collaboration of states working to make distance education easier for students

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission today announced that West Virginia has become one of the first states approved as a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), a nationwide collaborative working to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by campuses in other states. West Virginia’s participation becomes effective on December 1, 2014.

“Making distance education courses more readily accepted across state lines will help more students progress toward their degrees,” said Dr. Paul L. Hill, the Commission’s Chancellor. “Our institutions are doing a great job at growing and leveraging online offerings. West Virginia’s participation in SARA will serve to bolster those efforts – as well as our critical work to see more students succeed in completing postsecondary education.”

West Virginia was among the first three Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states to join SARA, which establishes standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. As a result, accredited degree-granting institutions in West Virginia can now operate in other participating SARA states without seeking independent authorization, making it easier for them to expand access to online courses for their students.

SARA is overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements and is being implemented by the four regional higher education interstate compacts: SREB, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, the New England Board of Higher Education, and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.