ICW's June 2011 Newsletter
A monthly update from ICW on education and workforce initiatives and policies.
In May, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW) organized a forum titled Degrees of Change: Private Sector Innovations Transforming Higher Education, to discuss issues around higher education reform. Issues included the role of the private sector in higher education and the regulatory barriers institutions face in providing degree attainment to all students. As part of the forum, ICW released a new report entitled College 2.0: Transforming Higher Education through Greater Innovation and Smarter Regulation .
Given the high interest in the forum and the new report, this month’s newsletter includes the executive summary of the report. In addition, the newsletter focuses on one area of the report related to the impact of federal regulations on innovation in the higher education sector. In the short time since the report was published, there has been a flurry of Congressional activity around several of the major regulations discussed in the report. As such, the newsletter highlights these developments and provides an overview of what the future is likely to hold for these regulations.
In this issue:
Higher Education Innovation and a Review of Federal Regulations
- College 2.0: Transforming Higher Education through Greater Innovation and Smarter Regulation -- Executive Summary 
- A Discussion of Obstacles to Innovation in Higher Education 
Currently, a number of obstacles prevent innovation from transforming higher education to the degree it has transformed other sectors of the economy. This section examines some of the major obstacles to innovation and suggests principles for reform.
- State Authorization of Postsecondary Institutions 
A federal proposal that threatens to set back the online learning movement is the so-called “state authorization” rule.The final rule provides that, in order to remain eligible for federal student aid funds, postsecondary institutions that offer courses to students in a state in which they are not physically located must meet that state’s requirements for educational institutions operating in the state, and must be able to document the authorization on request of the Department of Education.
- New Definition of Credit Hour 
Another federal rule that goes into effect on July 1, 2011, is a new definition of “credit hour.” Under the new definition, a “credit hour” must “reasonably approximate” not less than “one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week” for the duration of the term, or “an equivalent amount of work.” The new definition has created considerable confusion, particularly among providers of adaptive and distance learning.