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SARA initiative welcomes NIU as institutional participant

February 24, 2016

saraThe National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) has welcomed NIU as an institutional participant.

Leaders of the initiative are confident that SARA will boost administrative efficiency and lower the costs of obtaining authorization to provide postsecondary distance education in states that join. These benefits will result in increased access as institutions such as NIU can more widely distribute academic programs and accept enrollments from students in many other states.

“A great deal of work has gone into the development and implementation of the SARA initiative,” Executive Director Marshall A. Hill said.

“But increased access and efficiency will mean little if they are not accompanied by high quality,” Hill added. “That is why all SARA institutions are committing to several steps designed to ensure that courses and programs they offer through the SARA initiative provide high-quality opportunities that can help students reach their goals.”

Participating in SARA makes NIU a preferred choice nationally for students who are seeking excellent online programs, said Meryl Sussman, assistant vice president for Outreach Adult, Online and Non-credit Programming at NIU.

“Along with our membership in Quality Matters, our voluntary participation in SARA assures prospective students from other states that they can trust NIU to offer online programs and student support at the highest level of quality,” Sussman said. “It is consistent with the university’s approach: we offer our premium programs in new ways to reach new audiences, always preserving the best instructional approaches that help our students succeed.”

Photo of laptop computersAnne Kaplan, vice president for Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development, and Carolinda Douglass, vice provost for Academic Planning and Development, see additional benefits.

“Traditional efforts to assure the quality of out-of-state programs have assumed ‘on-ground’ delivery and have therefore depended on the approval of the receiving state,” Kaplan said. “Once a program is online, it can be delivered to every state, making approval under the pre-SARA policies costly and inefficient.”

“We are enthusiastic about participating in SARA as it offers increased opportunities for students to participate in a wide array of online programs offered by NIU,” Douglass said. “SARA will cut out much of the ‘red tape’ for online programs and enable our outstanding faculty to reach a wider national audience.”