Dick Bishirjian, the president of Yorktown University (an online liberal arts college), has reason to be fired up about the policy of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools that requires:
all of its accredited members to be authorized to operate in all the states where they have students either in online or traditional coursesApparently, the Department of Education (ED) is considering developing a similar policy that would be applicable to all accredited institutions. In other words, a college would need to go through the bureaucratic red tape to become licensed to operate in every state in which it has at least one student enrolled, adding vast sums of legal and administrative costs.
This is a misguided policy that would be a huge setback to the effort to make college more affordable and accessible. That's because technology can be utilized to offer educational courses and programs at a significantly lower marginal cost and greater efficiency than at a centralized campus. As online education improves and becomes more widely accepted, the competition will likely intensify with the result being even greater efficiency and lower costs for students.
Online education also provides students with greater flexibility of where and when to "attend class," reducing many of the barriers that stand in the way of non-traditional students enrolling in and completing college. By imposing additional onerous regulatory and administrative burdens on online providers, the ED would not only help fuel rapidly rising tuition costs, but also deter much needed competition.