Ala. Higher Ed Now Ready to Join National Online Learning Agreement

By Rusty Glover

On Tuesday, May 5th, Governor Robert Bentley signed into law legislation by Senator Rusty Glover (R-Semmes) and Representative Randy Davis (R-Daphne) that will expand the ability of Alabama’s colleges and universities to offer online classes to students around the country. The bill allows Alabama’s colleges and universities to join a national network, the National Council State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA). The NC-SARA expedites the ability of post-secondary institutions to offer online classes to students in member states.

Now as a member of NC-SARA, Alabama has the ability to enter into reciprocity agreements with other member states. This will allow Alabama’s universities to remain at the cutting-edge of online education.

“I thank Governor Bentley for signing this legislation that allows our colleges and universities to expand their online market to students across the country,” said Senator Glover. “The result will be more money coming into our state schools, which increases the funds available for development and research. Collaboration between students and professors with their peers across the country just became easier.”

“Passage of the distance learning reciprocity legislation sponsored by Senator Rusty Glover and Representative Randy Davis will make obtaining permission to offer on-line education across state lines easier and more cost-effective for Alabama’s colleges and universities, and it will make on-line programming more accessible to the citizens of Alabama,” said Dr. David Johnson, Senior Vice President and Provost at the University of South Alabama. “Senator Glover and Representative Davis worked tirelessly with the higher education community to get this somewhat technical legislation exactly right. All of us in the college and university community owe them our heartfelt thanks.”

Glover’s bill establishes a committee to advise the Governor on the details of reciprocity agreements with other member states of NC-SARA. The committee will be comprised of the chancellor of the University of Alabama system, the president of Auburn University, the president of the University of South Alabama, the chancellor of the Department of Postsecondary Education, and the president of a historically black college (appointed by the Governor).

“Auburn is very pleased that both the Alabama Legislature and Governor Bentley supported legislation enabling Alabama to join the National Council State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA),” remarked Auburn University Provost Tim Boosinger. “The NC-SARA Reciprocity agreement, which is a streamlined process for regulating online education, will improve student access and position Alabama’s universities to succeed in a competitive national market. We appreciate Senator Glover’s leadership in shepherding SB159 through the legislative process.”