Maryland Cracks Down on Distance Education

Carl Straumsheim:

he Maryland Higher Education Commission is cracking down on institutions that provide distance education to students in the state. But the commission has a problem: It doesn’t know who those distance education providers are.

The commission last month fired off letters addressed to presidents and provosts of institutions that offer fully online programs (seen at the bottom of this article), asking them to self-report if they enroll students in Maryland.

“As of July 1, 2012, higher education institutions offering fully online education to Maryland residents must submit an application to register with the Maryland Higher Education Commission,” the letter reads. “A review of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System has revealed that in 2012 your institution offered fully online programs and enrolled Maryland residents. If any of your current students are Maryland residents and are enrolled in fully online programs, the aforementioned regulation applies to your institution.”

After explaining how Maryland regulates out-of-state providers, the letter presents them with three options: Confirm that the institution enrolls students in Maryland, then pay an annual registration fee of $1,000 and a bond valued at five times the average cost of tuition; confirm that the institution is interested in enrolling students in Maryland, and pay the same fee; or decline any interest in enrolling students in Maryland, thereby barring those students from enrolling altogether.