State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (Sara)

“No SARA institution is exempt from meeting the necessary sara standards because of its size, prestige, wealth, political influence, accreditation, religious affiliation, or sector (public, independent, public utility, self-profit),” Hill wrote. It added that SARA does not mechanize the power of the Attorney General of a member state “to investigate and deal with fraud, misrepresentation or abuse committed by an institution, including SARA institutions inside or outside the state.” The report entitled “Failing U” was highly critical of the States that had acceded to Sara. The agreement “does not guarantee sufficient standards of consumer protection, minimum performance standards or minimum standards for the inspection, supervision and regulation of post-for-profit private institutions.” The report also said sara is encouraging for-profit schools to set up in countries where “regulation is weak.” The first sara meeting began in November 2013 and the guidelines for the state monitoring process are evolving. Sara started as a voluntary initiative, originally funded by the Lumina Foundation ($2.3 million grant) and will be funded in the future by user fees from participating institutions. Institutions must pay an annual fee for participation in SARA and the costs are based on RTD registration. Some states also have the option of imposing a state fee on institutions to participate in SARA. California, perhaps more than any other state, has been burned in the past by for-profit organizations. California has been called the “graduate mill capital of the world” after the federal government took action in the 1980s against an explosion of fly-by-night operators. Later, the for-profit Corinthian Colleges chain was established in California. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education ordered the closure of Corinthian after discovering it had deceived students about their job prospects. Many Californians are still struggling to get their money back.

Currently, 47 States participate in SARA, an intergovernmental system of reciprocity with a single set of basic standards and procedures that institutions in participating States must follow for their distance learning programmes. The recicitity system ensures that institutions can easily set up distance learning programmes in multiple countries as long as they meet the regulatory requirements of their home country. The original national regulations include standards on institutional quality, consumer protection and institutional financial responsibility. Institutions of a SARA state with the permission of the state in their own country may also provide courses and/or distance learning programs for any other SARA member. State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is a national initiative to establish comparable national standards for the intergovernmental delivery of remote post-secondary programs and programs. SARA is a voluntary agreement between the regional pacts (SREB, NEBHE, MHEC and WICHE) and the Member States. . . .