Bill will grant HECC authority to establish further agreements for improved interstate distance education practices.

Oregon State University and other Oregon colleges can soon enter interstate distance education agreements faster than before.

The bill passed Monday through the Oregon Senate with a 29-1 vote. It will allow for improved agreements between other states and Oregon colleges offering distance educational services abroad. The Higher Education Coordinating Commission will set most of the major parameters for the bill.

Dave King, associate provost of outreach and engagement at OSU, said the university currently spends more than $350,000 annually to comply with regulations throughout various states.

"This is a major issue for our students," King said.

King said establishing new regulations through HECC, as opposed to complying with every outside state requirement, would allow spare funds to improve the quality of continuing online programs for students.

Individual states must demonstrate ability to establish a process for participating institutions in order to join the agreement, according to the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

Alfonso Bradoch, director of department and learner services at Ecampus, said 37 percent of the 13,580 Ecampus students took classes out of state during the 2012-13 academic year.

Once active, SB 1525 would allow HECC to form agreements within the regional compact for participation in reciprocity across any state signing into the agreement.

"If we don't meet the authorization requirements, we can't offer education in that particular state," Bradoch said.

In terms of service denial, Bradoch said Arkansas has been one of the only states so far to completely refuse services.

"In all the other states, we've been allowed to continue to admit students and educate students in our states," Bradoch said.

Because of a longer application process requiring detailed lists of program reports and instructor credentials, the approval process will take much longer.

Though OSU continues to work through the process, the state of Arkansas can only review 10 programs per quarter.

"We have an excess of 30 programs, so it's a batch process," Bradoch said.

Currently, OSU Ecampus offers more than 900 credit courses throughout an area of 80 subjects.

In addition to the standard undergraduate tuition credit cost of $191, distance education courses cost an extra $80 per credit.

Sean Bassinger

Higher education reporter

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