- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

MADISON, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota is joining a national effort to make distance education more accessible to college students across state lines.

The program is called the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, or SARA, The Daily Leader in Madison (https://bit.ly/1taQYv8 ) reported. It also makes it easier for higher education institutions to take part in interstate delivery of distance education and for states to regulate the process, according to South Dakota Board of Regents executive director and CEO Jack Warner.

The board will manage South Dakota’s SARA agreement on behalf of all participating public and private schools, which can start applying to be part of it next month.

“As distance delivery of post-secondary education grows, we must help students gain access to these opportunities, ensure that the programs are of high quality, and help resolve any complaints on behalf of consumers,” Warner said. “This SARA agreement helps to make all of that possible.”

The program will allow local schools to provide “distance education to a broader market,” said Annette Miller, senior secretary with the Extended Programs Department at Dakota State University. It will also provide the opportunity for South Dakota to work with other states that have implemented SARA, she said.

But the new agreement won’t replace the presence of physical universities, according to DSU director of extended programs Sarah Rasmussen, because they’re two distinct markets.

“You will always need the traditional brick and mortar,” she said.

In 2012, data supplied to the U.S. Department of Education indicated there are 31 post-secondary institutions in South Dakota serving a full-time equivalent of 43,000 students.

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Information from: The Madison Daily Leader, https://www.madisondailyleader.com

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