The University of Georgia is pleased to announce participation in SARA, the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. UGA’s participation in SARA positions the university to offer distance education to residents across all 50 US States. Before SARA, UGA was able to offer online education to only 36 US states in addition to international students.
"This is a great opportunity for UGA to expand access to potential students," explained Dr. Keith Bailey, Director of Online Learning at UGA. "Sometimes it’s taken for granted that online programs are available anywhere. Participation in SARA means UGA now can offer its programs to students across the United States."
The state authorization process can be confusing and resource-intensive. However, educational institutions in SARA member states will be able to operate in other member states without a need to fill out individual state applications and pay the fees that are required presently. “We are thankful for the state’s willingness to cover the fees associated with participation in SARA,” said Dr. Bailey. SARA’s nationwide initiative of states makes distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines and makes it easier for states to regulate and institutions to participate in interstate distance education. The effort is funded by a $3 million grant from Lumina Foundation, $200,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and fees paid by institutions.
SARA not only opens the door for interstate distance education, it also offers the opportunity to have a standard set of triggers in all SARA states for physical presence. This won’t take away the need to track where students are completing on-the-ground field experiences such as internships, clinicals and practicums, but it does simplify the process. Additionally, there is an advocacy aspect of state authorization to protect students’ investments and meet their expectations for quality distance education that complies with state regulations.
The state of Georgia joined SARA in November 2015, opening the door for UGA to submit an application to join as an institution. Participating in SARA is entirely voluntary for institutions, as it is for states. “Georgia educational leaders immediately recognized the value of participating in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement,” said Corinna Robinson, executive director for the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission. “We anticipate possible cost savings and a wider range of access to programs and degrees. SARA advances these objectives.”
For more information go to www.education.nh.gov/highered/colleges/sara.htm.