CU securing permission of states beyond Colorado to offer online education


The University of Colorado must seek permission to provide online education in states other than Colorado or to enroll students in online programs in those states, the CU Board of Regents was told Friday, but that process shouldn’t delay the fall launch of CU’s systemwide online education initiative.

Deborah Keyek-Franssen, associate vice president for digital education and engagement, also said the university is required to work with licensure boards for professional programs such as nursing, psychology and education.

“What this means is we need to negotiate with each state separately on a campus-by-campus basis and often on a program-by-program basis. This makes it very complex,” Keyek-Franssen said. However, she said states are bonding together and signing reciprocity agreements.

“Colorado is one of 19 states that has done so, so that means the number of states we need to negotiate with is decreasing,” she said. “All of the campuses’ applications have been accepted into the state authorization reciprocity agreement (SARA). We expect that 40 states will have joined by the end of the year.”

Authorization work on behalf of campuses is being coordinated at the system level, Keyek-Franssen said, and will not affect launch of the initiative, to be known as University of Colorado On Demand.

The impetus behind state authorization is consumer protection, she said. “This all came about because states were concerned their students were being delivered shoddy goods by shady postsecondary operations,” Keyek-Franssen said.

Chancellors Philip DiStefano (CU-Boulder), Donald Elliman (CU Anschutz), Pam Shockley-Zalabak (UCCS) and Jerry Wartgow (CU Denver) updated the board on the overall progress of the online course and degree initiative. Across the CU system, campuses now offer 32 degree programs completely online, five undergraduate completion programs and 55 certificate programs. The chancellors said 25 new online degrees are planned.

“We are working on several different fronts simultaneously to create a better outcome,” Shockley-Zalabak said. “The chancellors are working together with the provosts so that we’re making sure the online programs have the ability to both come forward into the marketplace and have distinctiveness in the marketplace.”

The chancellors told the board they are confident that marketing and streamlining the concurrent enrollment policy will provide online students a great deal more access by fall. She said CU also will have courses available for all high school and home schooled students that can be used as AP courses. Initially, every online courses and degree program will belong to an individual campus; however, over time it is anticipated that campuses will collaborate on degree offerings, she said.

Importantly throughout, Elliman said, CU needs to build on its programs and get the word out.

“We need to broaden and deepen our offerings, we need to make access to those offerings faster and, last but not least, we need to market the hell out of it,” Elliman said.