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Virginia Legislation Allows State to Participate in Interstate Reciprocity Agreements Authorizing Distance Learning

Virginia became one of the first southern states approved by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) for participation in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), which eases the way for online degree programs to operate in the state. The Virginia General Assembly passed HB 467, and the governor signed it in March 2014. SREB subsequently approved the state’s participation in SARA in October 2014. The bill authorizes the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to enter into interstate reciprocity agreements authorizing postsecondary distance education. SCHEV will administer the agreements and will approve or disapprove participation in the agreements by degree-granting institutions of higher education in the state. Participation in the agreements by the institutions is voluntary. The bill also requires SCHEV to establish the Distance Learning Reciprocity Advisory Council, which will include representatives from each participating institution. SCHEV approved policy on reciprocal authorization of distance education and related activities in July 2014. The policy provides greater detail about SCHEV’s plans for implementing the reciprocity agreement, its role and responsibilities, and the processes and policies for participating institutions.

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