The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 17, 2014

Ala. bill would allow out of state online courses

— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers are considering legislation to allow the state's colleges and universities participate in reciprocal online course offerings with schools in other states.

House Bill 321 is sponsored by Rep. Bill Pool, a Tuscaloosa Republican. Poole says he met with the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and educators when he crafted the bill.

The legislation would tweak part of Alabama law to allow accredited out-of-state schools participating in a regional agreement approved by the governor to operate in Alabama.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools would likely be the accrediting authority, and the agreement would be overseen by the Southern Regional Education Board, said Alabama Commission on Higher Education Director Gregory Fitch. He added that the bill would streamline the method out of states institutions would have to use to operate in Alabama under certain conditions. "The key to it is they have to be part of the agreement," he said.

States included in the Southern Regional Education Board are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

The bill has won support from some University System of Alabama officials.

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