The US Department of Education

What’s Next On DeVos’ Regulatory Chopping Block

The ITC constantly monitors distance learning-related activity in Washington DC.  During the eight years of the Obama Administration – beginning with the passage of the Higher Education Opportunities Act (HEOA-2008), online programs dealt with an increasing number of regulations as well as collateral actions from Federal courts.  The ITC was successful in limiting the impact of student authorization by drafting the clarifying language that ensured student privacy as well as recognized the high cost of technology-based solutions – we were challenged to “explore” emerging technologies but did not have to – and still don’t have to – use any technology-based solution. 

The article listed above indicates that Federal regulatory activity will be different under the new administration.  The US Department of Education is apparently developing an agenda for regulatory action as concerns online learning and has identified four regulatory areas that likely will be overhauled:   1) student authorization, 2) definition of a credit hour, 3) the “regular and substantive activity” requirement, and 4) accreditation.  

Related to this is the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (the HEOA from 2008) – the House version was approved in December (the PROSPER Act) and sent to the US Senate.  The Senate is drafting its own version in the HOPE Committee.  Generally, with a Republican majority, the focus has been on easing restrictions on for-profit providers of distance learning and to rethink a number of regulations.  The article in Politico confirms the focus on overhauling regulation – whether the Congress takes action or not. 

The ITC will continue to monitor developments in Washington DC and provide updates when indicated.