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NC-SARA - Administrators and Faculty Information

Why is NC-SARA's Data Collection Important?

Collecting, reporting and analyzing data about the interstate delivery of distance education are important parts of NC-SARA's mission. Within the enrollment report, the data helps answer the question of which institutions are enrolling online students and where those students are located. For the out-of-state learning placement report, the data is helping us to understand how many students are participating in out-of-state learning activities (now covered by SARA) and how those activities span various program areas. The reports that NC-SARA produces yearly on these topics are available for public consumption, as is the raw data; both are frequently cited in national publications.

  • Institutions participating in SARA shall annually report to NC-SARA the number of exclusively Distance Education students enrolled in the Institution engaged in Distance Education, disaggregated by State, territory, or district in which the students are located, including the Home state.
  • Institutions participating in SARA shall annually report to NC-SARA the numbers of their students engaged in certain out-of-state learning placements (OOSLP) in every state, territory, and district other than their own.
  • Complaints resulting from distance education courses, activities and operations provided by SARA-participating institutions to students in other SARA States come under the coverage of SARA.

The regulations have prompted establishment of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) to streamline the state authorization process. Universities located in a state choosing to participate in NC-SARA are authorized to provide distance education programs to residents of NC-SARA states without having to seek separate approvals from each state. The authorization to do so is subject to post-secondary education regulations of the member states and of requirements set forth in the NC-SARA agreement. NC-SARA also governs placement by universities of their students in supervised field experiences (see definition below) located in a state other than the home state of the university.

Distance Education Programs

If you offer a program online and are enrolling students who reside in other states, your unit needs to communicate with each of those students whether the program leads to licensure or certification in their home state. Your unit should document that the information has been sent to and received by each student.

According to University Policy 4.1.21, a distance education program is defined as a program in which a student could earn a degree or certificate by taking 50 percent or more of the work (credit hours required for the degree or certificate) in distance education courses. A distance education course is one in which 75 percent or more of the instruction and interaction occurs via electronic communication or equivalent mechanisms, with the faculty and students physically separated from each other.

NC-SARA Supervised Field Experiences Requirements

If students in your unit complete field experiences at locations outside Illinois, your unit needs to communicate with each student whether the program in which they are enrolled leads to licensure or certification in that state. Your unit should maintain records of those out-of-state field placements, including documentation that students have been provided and received licensure or certification information. Units are asked to report numbers and locations of out-of-state field placements during the previous calendar year to the Office of Provost by May 15th each year. Contact J. Cooper Cutting for more information.

A supervised field experience is a student learning experience that is associated with an academic program of study; that is comprised primarily of the practical application of previously studied theories and skills; that occurs under the oversight of a supervisor, mentor, faculty member, or other qualified professional who has a direct or indirect reporting responsibility to the University; and for which students may or may not receive course credit. Supervised field experiences include, but are not limited to, practica, student teaching, clinical placements, and internships but do not include field trips and service learning experiences such as alternative spring break.

Internship coordinators should consult the NC-SARA website, particularly the FAQs, for information concerning "licensed professions" for detailed information. Generally, internships, professional practices, and field experiences can be completed in SARA participant states subject to the following stipulations:

  • Disclosure and reporting requirements apply to all academic programs, distance education and non-distance education.
  • No more than 9 students may be placed simultaneously at one out-of-state field experience site.
  • Departments/schools must inform each student enrolled in an out-of-state supervised field experience whether the program meets professional licensure or certification requirements of that state.
  • Departments/schools must comply with individual state requirements regarding supervised field experiences (e.g., Colorado worker’s compensation).
  • Departments/schools report annually to the Provost’s office regarding the out-of-state supervised field experiences of its students.