The Regulation of E-Learning: New National and International Policy Perspectives

CSHE is conducting a research project to explore and inform current and ongoing debates in the regulation of technology-mediated higher education both domestically and internationally.

Project activities include commissioning a set of white papers and analyses, which will provide the basis for discussion and debate at a small by-invitation symposium in early 2006. The symposium will be used to identify further research on the most promising topics, and the proceedings will be published through this website.

The project is supported by the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and is overseen by a steering committee, which includes Bruce Chaloux, Michael Goldstein, Diane Harley (principal investigator), Sally Johnstone, Vijay Kumar, Kurt Larsen, Gary Matkin, and Brian Pusser.

Final Report

The Regulation of E-learning: New National and International Policy Perspectives. Diane Harley, Shannon Lawrence. CSHE.1.07. (September 2006)

The Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE), UC Berkeley, with the support of the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is conducting a research project to explore and inform current and ongoing debates in the regulation of technology-mediated higher education both domestically and globally. Specifically we will conduct a preliminary examination of existing and emerging public policies that will shape the regulation of e-learning both domestically and internationally.

For this pilot project we will engage in a series of activities that include commissioning a set of white papers and analyses. These papers and analyses will provide the basis for discussion and debate at a small by-invitation symposium to be held in early Winter 2006. The symposium, where the white papers are presented, would then be used to identify further research on the most promising topics. The proceedings of the symposium will be published and disseminated through this website. A Steering Committee, which includes Bruce Chaloux, Michael Goldstein, Diane Harley, Sally Johnstone, Vijay Kumar, Kurt Larsen, Gary Matkin, and Brian Pusser, has been established to oversee the project.


  • Elucidate the intended and unintended outcomes of various regulatory models, including whether they hamper innovative practice and/or limit consumer choice.
  • Develop a brief overview of the history and contemporary principles of regulation and the public interest in education.
  • Gain a more concise understanding of the rationale behind current regulatory model(s) from various stakeholder perspectives (e.g., different tiers of providers, different types of consumer, different countries and regions).
  • Encourage a wider and more research-driven conversation on this topic through collaboration with other research centers and projects. Specifically, establish a framework for a comprehensive research agenda to guide policy makers and institutional leaders.
  • Disseminate findings to a wide constituency, including international, national, and regional higher education organizations.

Background and Rationale:

The universe of postsecondary education is expanding. It is an era of rapid demographic and labor market changes, increased competition and shifts in institutional form (e.g., the rise of for-profit degree granters, the hybrid form of nonprofit/for-profit partnerships, corporate universities), and, perhaps most important, new forms of delivery driven by emerging technologies. In nearly all of these cases the pace of innovation and establishment of new institutional forms outstrips the ability of regulators or policy makers to stay ahead of the curve.

Nothing epitomizes these challenges more clearly than the regulation of online learning. As online education increasingly challenges the traditional importance of institutional locale and political boundaries, it has run into the considerable complexities and policy collisions of state and national regulation and multiple levels of accreditation. Within the United States there is a fair amount of ad hoc policy at the state and institutional levels. At the national level the traditional "Big 6" nonprofit associations find themselves challenged to compete with for-profit associations and corporations in the legislative arena.

On the international level, significant attention is being paid to the role of e-learning in cross-border education, and its implications for national quality assurance and accreditation (see for example the excellent review in OECD, 2004). UNESCO and OECD have been particularly active in addressing the challenges, both on the national and international level, posed by cross-border higher education and its corollaries – the increased mobility of students, professionals, programs and providers. Further complicating the picture is the increasing momentum of the "open education content" movement (Hewlett Foundation, 2004), and the questions it raises regarding how proprietary and open content will be blended and adapted into local contexts of certification and degree granting.

This project is not intended to be another inventory of regulatory barriers. We are not seeking the "what" of regulation, but rather the "why." The project will focus on the public policy issues that drive regulation, with particular emphasis on the imperatives – both real and imagined – that underlie domestic and international regulation of postsecondary education, from both an institutional and a consumer (learner) perspective. That is, our interest is the deeper research, models, and theories that color understanding of regulation as it is applied to e-learning.

Based on our and others' work to date, we view this as a key juncture, where technology, competition, and public policy must be understood and integrated to ensure both an effective U.S. postsecondary education system, and the diffusion of quality educational materials and practice across borders. As the complexity of the questions being asked demands multidimensional and interdisciplinary approaches, CSHE believes that bringing together a diverse set of stakeholders allows for productively framing the debate, raising fresh questions, challenging set ideas, and offering new solutions.

(Meeting participation is by invitation only.)

Download: Detailed Agenda (PDF, 34 kB)

Thursday, February 2

12:00 - 1:30 Lunch
1:30 - 5:00 Meeting 
6:00 Dinner

Friday, February 3

8:45 - 5:15 Meeting
6:00 Dinner for those staying

Steering Committee:

Diane Harley
Principal Investigator
Senior Researcher
Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley

Bruce N. Chaloux
Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)

Michael B. Goldstein
Practice Leader, Educational Institutions
Dow, Lohnes & Albertson, PLLC, Washington, DC

Sally Johnstone
Executive Director, WCET
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)

Vijay Kumar
Assistant Provost and Director of Academic Computing
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Kurt Larsen 
Senior Program Officer
World Bank

Gary Matkin 
Dean, Continuing Education
University of California, Irvine

Brian Pusser 
Assistant Professor, 
Curry School of Education, University of Virginia.

Meeting Participants:

Dominique Abrioux
Past President
Athabasca University

Svava Bjarnason
Observatory on Borderless Higher Education

William Durden
Dickinson College

Judith Eaton
Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)

Glen Farrell
Glen Farrell & Associates

Richard Garrett
Senior Research Analyst

Kay Gilcher
Director, Distance Education Demonstration Program
U.S. Department of Education

Shannon Lawrence
Center for Studies in Higher Education

Mark Luker
Vice President

Martin Michaelson
Hogan & Hartson, LLP

Helen Nissenbaum
Associate Professor
New York University

Michael Offerman
President and CEO
Capella University

Paula Peinovich
Walden University

Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić
Chief of Section, Division of Higher Education

Ralph Wolff
Executive Director
Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Dominique Abrioux
[web page]
A pioneer in open and distance learning, Dr. Abrioux has been with Athabasca University, Canada’s Open University, for over twenty-five years and served as president from 1995 – 2005, during which time his institution tripled its enrolment, significantly expanded its curriculum into graduate studies, and prepared for an important extension to its catchment area by becoming the first Canadian university to gain US regional accreditation (from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.) Currently on sabbatical leave, Dr. Abrioux researches, writes, and speaks on the management and transformation of distance education in Canada, particularly this impact on single mode open learning systems.

Svava Bjarnason
Svava Bjarnason is the Director of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education based in London. She holds a joint appointment with the Association of Commonwealth Universities where she is the Director of Research and Strategy. Prior to joining the ACU in 1998, she was an independent consultant working in areas of policy development in higher education in the United Kingdom. The ACU has some 500 member universities across 34 Commonwealth countries while the Observatory has over 130 subscribing institutions including government ministries of education and over 80 universities.

Bruce Chaloux
Bruce Chaloux directs the 16-state Electronic Campus of the Southern Regional Education Board. He also directs SREB’s Distance Learning Policy Laboratory and is currently directing a Lumina-supported project on adult learning. He previously served in the Graduate School at Virginia Tech for 13 years, including Associate Dean for Extended Campus Programs and Director of Tech’s Northern Virginia Graduate Campus in suburban Washington, DC. He earlier was on the staff of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and was an academic affairs administrator and faculty member at Castleton State College (Vermont).

William Durden
[web page]
William G. Durden assumed his duties as President of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on July 1, 1999. He was Director of the Center for Talented Youth at The Johns Hopkins University for 16 years and member of the German Department at Johns Hopkins. For 11 of those years at Hopkins, he served as senior education consultant to the U.S. Department of State, chairing its Advisory Committee on Exceptional Children and Youth. Dr. Durden has also served as President of the Sylvan Academy of Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc. and Vice President for Academic Affairs of the Caliber Learning Network, a joint distance-learning venture of Sylvan and MCI Corporation. He has published on a wide range of topics including the value of a liberal arts education, gifted and talented education, leadership, educational policy and practice, literary criticism and distance learning.

Judith Eaton
[web page]

Glen Farrell
Glen Farrell has been involved in the development of open learning systems and the use of distance education delivery models since the early 1970’s. He was the founding president of the Open University of BC and the provincial educational television network. Dr. Farrell is now involved in international consultancies that draw on his expertise in distance education, educational applications of information and communication technologies, and the management of innovative organizations. The projects have included studies on virtual education, evaluation of ICT applications in education, and, the institutional management of distance education. Dr. Farrell lives in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Richard Garrett
[web page]
Richard Garrett is Senior Analyst on Eduventures' Online Higher Education program (OHE). OHE is a member-driven collaborative research program, bringing together a wide range of universities and colleges. Members shape three major studies per year (e.g. on consumer demand, competitive advantage, best practices), and in addition have access to three custom studies each and a peer network. Prior to Eduventures, Richard was Deputy Director at the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) in London, UK. While at OBHE, Richard undertook research and consulting in online higher education, internationalisation and private higher education.

Kay Gilcher
Kay Gilcher serves on the postsecondary education policy staff at the US Department of Education, where she is responsible for issues related to distance education and accreditation. She has led the Distance Education Demonstration Program since 2000. Previously, Ms. Gilcher was an adjunct program officer with the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. She has extensive knowledge of distance education and technology, which derives from her fourteen years at the University of Maryland University College where she served in many positions associated with the design and delivery of distance education programs. Her last position at UMUC was as Assistant Vice President and Director, Center for the Virtual University. Prior to coming to Maryland, she was a director of career planning and placement at Cornell University.

Michael Goldstein
[web page]
Michael B. Goldstein is a member of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Dow, Lohnes and Albertson, where he is in charge of the firm's Higher Education practice. Prior to joining DL&A in 1978, Mr. Goldstein was Associate Vice Chancellor for Urban and Governmental Affairs and Associate Professor of Urban Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and before that served as Assistant City Administrator and Director of University Relations in the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York. He represents a wide array of institutions, organizations and entities in the postsecondary arena, including large publicly-traded companies; major public and independent universities; individual for-profit, non-profit and public institutions of all types and sizes; investment banks and venture capital firms; higher education associations; and companies doing business in the field. He has been very active in the development of online learning and in guiding the evolution of various kinds of institutional ventures, including hybrid for- and non-profit structures. Mr. Goldstein holds a law degree from New York University, a B.A. in Government from Cornell University, and was a Loeb Fellow in Advanced Urban and Environmental Studies at Harvard University.

Diane Harley
[web page]
Diane Harley, Ph.D., is a biosocial anthropologist, and directs the Higher Education in the Digital Age (HEDA), Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE), University of California, Berkeley. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley. At UC Berkeley, Diane has created and directed research initiatives focusing on the policy implications of integrating information and communication technologies into complex academic environments. Areas of investigation include the economic analyses of technology deployment in large lecture courses, the policy implications of university teaching as e-business, analysis of how digital resources are used in humanities and social science education, and the cross border regulation of e-learning. Currently she is co-Principal investigator on the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation project: Kids' Informal Learning with Digital Media: An Ethnographic Collaboration. Additional work includes serving on the UC Commission on General Education in the 21st Century. She has also developed multimedia education programs and managed partnerships with the California and Florida departments of education, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Science Foundation, ABC News Interactive, and various universities, publishers, and software developers. She has held teaching positions in Anthropology and Anatomy/Physiology at UC Berkeley and Mills College.

Sally Johnstone
[web page]
Sally M. Johnstone is the executive director of WCET, the Cooperative advancing effective use of technology in higher education. Dr. Johnstone’s areas of expertise include: institutional collaborations, quality assurance issues, project development and evaluation, open educational resources, and supporting WCET members in the planning for and implementation of eLearning. Johnstone has authored dozens of publications on distance and distributed learning. She also leads workshops and gives invited addresses to higher education organizations throughout the world. In addition Johnstone consults regularly with institutions, states, and provinces. She earned her Ph. D. in experimental psychology from the UNC-Chapel Hill.

Vijay Kumar
[web page]
Dr. Vijay Kumar is the Assistant Provost and Director of Academic Computing, IS&T at MIT, providing strategic leadership for units engaged supporting educational technology. Vijay is the Principal Investigator of O.K.I (Open Knowledge Initiative), an MIT-led collaborative project to develop an open architecture for educational applications. He is a member of MIT's Council on Educational Technology, the steering committee of iCampus, an MIT-Microsoft initiative and the Advisory Committee for MIT OpenCourseware (OCW). Vijay is a member of the Applications Strategy Council for Internet2, the Advisory Board for GELC (Global Educational Learning Community and an advisor to India's National Knowledge Commission. Dr. Kumar holds a Ph.D. in Education, M.S. in Industrial Management and a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering.

Kurt Larsen
Kurt Larsen works as a Senior Program Officer at the World Bank in the Knowledge for Development Program. The aim of this program is to stimulate social and economic development in developing countries by building their capacity to access and use knowledge as a basis for enhancing competitiveness and increasing welfare. He is 48 years old and of Danish nationality. Kurt has more than 8 years experience as a Principal Analyst at the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation at and in Secretary General’s Private Office at the Organization of Economic development and Cooperation (OECD). He has furthermore worked more than 10 years in the Danish Government in the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science and Technology and as an adviser to the Danish Prime Minister in education, research, information and communication as well as social welfare policies. Kurt Larsen has a Masters Degree in Geography and a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics from Aarhus University, Denmark. He has complemented his post-secondary education with an international degree in Public Administration from the École Nationale d’Administration, Paris.

Shannon Lawrence
[web page]
Shannon Lawrence is currently a researcher at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE), responsible for research design, data collection, and writing/editing. Formerly the Assistant Director of the Higher Education in the Digital Age project, Ms. Lawrence coordinated a two-year foundation-funded evaluation of technology enhancements in a large lecture course and co-edited a volume on distance learning efforts in research universities. She has also collaborated on national and statewide research and evaluation projects at the California Social Welfare and Education Center, the Service Learning Research and Development Center, and the National Center for Research in Vocational Education. Ms. Lawrence holds a B.A. from UC San Diego and earned her M.A. in Education from UC Berkeley.

Mark Luker
[web page]
Mark A. Luker heads Net@EDU, the EDUCAUSE-based 'thought-leadership' coalition of university CIOs and state network directors who work to advance national networking for both research and education through joint projects and federal policy. Net@EDU was the spawning ground of Internet2, and is now expanding its focus to include advanced connections between other campuses and their customers in surrounding communities and regions. Luker also leads the EDUCAUSE office of government relations and policy analysis in Washington, DC, which works with partner associations to help shape the emerging policy and legal framework of the Internet, intellectual property, and other issues of importance to higher education. Luker served for two years as program director for advanced networking at the National Science Foundation and the federal Next Generation Internet project. For five years prior to that he worked on issues of reorganization for networked access to digital information and other services as CIO at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. In this role he was active in several national projects including the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative and the Coalition for Networked Information. Luker received his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, and served as a faculty member and a dean at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, before moving into information technology management.

Gary Matkin
[web page]
As Dean of Continuing Education at UC Irvine since March 1, 2000, Gary Matkin oversees University Extension, Summer Session, and the UCI Distance Learning Center, which provides centralized services to UCI units interested in offering online programs. With a combined budget of $23 million, Extension offers 2,400 courses a year to approximately 30,000 students, and includes several community programs such as the Women’s Opportunity Center, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and OCTANe @ UCI, a partner program with the Orange County Technology Action Network, founded to create new innovation-based business in Orange County. Summer Session serves 11,000 students with 550 course offerings and a budget of $12 million. Prior to becoming dean at UCI, Dr. Matkin was associate dean of University Extension at UC Berkeley, where he was responsible for instructional technology initiatives, including online courses and various technology-assisted distance education programs. Dr. Matkin holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of San Francisco, an MBA and Ph.D. in Education from UC Berkeley, and is a Certified Public Accountant. An author of three books, Effective Budgeting in Continuing Education (1985), Technology Transfer and the University (1990), and Using Financial Information in Continuing Education (1997), Dr. Matkin has also written numerous articles and papers on the subjects of continuing education, distance learning, and university economic development. Dean Matkin serves as chair of the University of California Extension Deans Council and is a member of the UC system’s Technology Transfer Advisory Committee, the Standing Committee on Copyright, and the Science and Mathematics Initiative (SMI). He also serves as Principal Investigator of several Foundation grants, including a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to advise and support the Foundation’s Open Content Initiative. He also regularly consults with U.S. universities and international organizations such as the OECD (Paris) on subjects of continuing education administration, distance and online education, and regional economic development.

Martin Michaelson
[web page]
Martin Michaelson, a partner in the Washington and New York offices of the Hogan & Hartson law firm, heads the firm's higher education practice. He represents public and independent universities and colleges located throughout the United States, associations, foundations, and other organizations in the higher education field. Previously, Martin was in-house counsel at Harvard University. He is admitted to practice law in New York, the District of Columbia, and Massachusetts, and is a Fellow of the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

Helen Nissenbaum
[web page]
Helen Nissenbaum is Associate Professor in the Department of Culture and Communication and Faculty Fellow at the Information Law Institute, both at New York University. She conducts research in the social, ethical, and political dimensions of information and communications technology. Her scholarly publications span the topics of privacy, property rights, electronic publication, accountability, the use of computers in education, and values in the design of computer and information systems. Her research on values in design, security, and privacy have been supported through grants from the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Nissenbaum's books include Emotion and Focus, Computers, Ethics and Social Values (coedited with D.J. Johnson), and Academy and the Internet (co-edited with Monroe Prince) and she is a co-founding editor of the journal, Ethics and Information Technology. At Princeton University, she served as Associate Director of the University Center for Human Values and before that held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University. She holds a B.A. with honors from the University of Witwatersand, Johannesburg, an M.A. in Education, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University.

Michael Offerman
[web page]
Dr. Michael J. Offerman has served as the president of Capella University since June 2001. Offerman is a frequent speaker at national conferences and brings to Capella University a wealth of experience in adult and distance learning. He has served on a number of national boards including the American Council on Education and the University Continuing Education Association. Offerman received a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Iowa, a Master of Science in higher education administration at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a doctorate in educational policy studies at Northern Illinois University.

Paula Peinovich
[web page]
Paula E. Peinovich, Ph.D. became the seventh president of Walden University in 2003. Before arriving at Walden, Peinovich served as vice president for academic affairs at Excelsior College, a distance-education college founded on the philosophy that a commitment to cooperation and inclusion is the means to achieving the common good. Prior to that, she was a lecturer in the distance-education doctoral programs at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, and was the executive dean at Wayne County Community College in Detroit, MI. Peinovich serves on the American Council on Education Commission on Women in Higher Education and served on the ACE Commission on Lifelong Learning from 2000 to 2003. She also served on the Board of Directors for the University Continuing Education Association from 2003-05 and is past president of the Association for Continuing Higher Education. In 1995, she received a Fulbright Fellowship and in 2003 served as an examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Program. In 2005, she was selected as one of 25 "Women Changemakers" in Minneapolis by the Minneapolis Business Journal. Dr. Peinovich received a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a B.A. from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Brian Pusser
Brian Pusser is an Assistant Professor in the Center for the Study of Higher Education of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on postsecondary access and equity, the politics of higher education, the organization and governance of postsecondary institutions, and the role of state and federal policies in shaping the postsecondary arena. He is currently a principal investigator on the Emerging Pathways project, a study of nontraditional students in innovative postsecondary programs, funded by Lumina Foundation for Education.

Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić
[web page]
Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić is Chief of the Section for Reform, Innovation and Quality Assurance, in the Higher Education Division in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Her more recent responsibilities are aimed at developing policy debates on cross-border higher education covering a wide range of issues from distance education to trade in higher educational services through the Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications (2002; 2004). One of the most recent outcomes of this work are the Guidelines on Quality Provision in Cross Border Higher Education, elaborated jointly with the OECD (2005).

Ralph Wolff
Ralph A. Wolff, Executive Director of WASC, was appointed in 1996, after serving as Associate Executive Director from 1981–1995. Wolff is responsible for setting goals, priorities, and policy for the Senior College Accrediting Commission. As Executive Director, he coordinated the extensive process leading to the 2001 Handbook of Accreditation. Prior to joining WASC, Wolff was the founder and Director of Planning of the Antioch School of Law, Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Antioch, and a law professor at the University of Dayton. A graduate of Tufts University, Wolff received his JD with honors from the National Law Center at George Washington University

Complete Project Proposal:

Proposal: Regulation of E-Learning

26 October 2004 (Word document - 61 kB)

The proposal to the Ford Foundation for the funding of the Regulation Project; includes project background and rationale, as well as project overview and activities.

White Papers:

Regulation, E-Learning, and the Changing Structures of Higher Education

1 December 2005 (Word document - 65 kB)

Prepared by Richard Garrett, Gary Matkin, & Vijay Kumar

Regulation, E-Learning and Finance

27 January 2006 (Word document - 31 kB)

Prepared by Michael B. Goldstein

Student Access and Equity

7 February 2006 (PowerPoint presentation - 32 kB)

Prepared by Bruce Chaloux

Consumer Protection in Cross-Border E-Learning Delivery

24 October 2005 (Word document - 40 kB)

Prepared by Sally Johnstone & Kurt Larsen

Related Readings:


Initial Responses to the Dow Lohnes 2005 Physical Presence Survey

December 2005 (PDF - 143 kB - 10 pages)

Summary of initial responses to the "Physical Presence Survey", prepared by Michael Goldstein and Dow Lohnes & Albertson. The survey examines varying state practices relative to the regulation, licensing, and accreditation of interstate and cross-border post-secondary institutions. Based on responses from 37 state agencies.

Report to Congress on the Distance Education Demonstration Programs

January 2001 (Word document - 168 kB - 45 pages)

The Distance Education Demonstration Program was authorized by Congress in the 1998 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) (1) to test the quality and viability of expanded distance education programs currently restricted under the HEA; 2) to provide for increased student access to higher education through distance education; and (3) to help determine the most effective means of delivering quality education via distance education, the specific statutory and regulatory requirements that should be altered to provide greater access to distance education, and the appropriate level of Title IV, student financial assistance for students enrolled in distance education programs. This is the first report to Congress concerning the results of the project.

Second Report to Congress on the Distance Education Demonstration Programs

July 2003 (Word document - 359 kB - 30 pages)

The second report to Congress on the results of the Distance Education Demonstration Program, which was authorized by Congress in the 1998 amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA).

Third Report to Congress on the Distance Education Demonstration Programs

April 2005 (Word document - 189 kB - 25 pages)

The third report to Congress on the results of the Distance Education Demonstration Program, which was authorized by Congress in the 1998 amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA).


Guidelines for Quality Provision in Cross-border Higher Education (OECD)

5 December 2005 (PDF - 2.79 MB - 44 pages)


With the recent increase in cross-border higher education, systems of quality assurance, accreditation and recognition of qualifications face big challenges. The Guidelines for Quality Provision in Cross-border Higher Education provide an international framework to protect students and other stakeholders from low-quality provision and disreputable providers. They provide guidance to key stakeholders on how to share the responsibility of assuring quality provision of cross-border higher education between the sending country and the receiving country. The Guidelines were elaborated in close collaboration with UNESCO.

Sharing Quality Higher Education Across Borders: A Statement on Behalf of Higher Education Institutions Worldwide

27 April 2005 (web page)

ACE, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and the International Association of Universities (IAU), circulated a draft of the statement, Sharing Quality Higher Education Across Borders, throughout the world for comment by higher education associations.

The ACE Board approved the final version on February 13, 2005. The statement, representing the views of higher education institutions worldwide, is based on the belief that market forces alone will not ensure that cross-border education contributes to the public good. It lays the groundwork for fair and transparent policy frameworks, underpinned by a set of guiding principles and a process of dialogue among stakeholders.

Who's Afraid of Cross-border Higher Education? A Developing World Perspective

1 April 2005 (web page)

Sir John Daniel, Asha Kanwar (Commonwealth of Learning) and Stamenka Uvali-Trumbi (UNESCO), International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE). Presented at: Annual Conference 2005 Wellington, New Zealand Final Plenary Session: Quality Assurance in Transnational Issues.

Quality and an International Higher Education Space

Summer 2005 (web page)

Judith S. Eaton

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) held its fourth International Commission meeting in January 2005. Individuals from a dozen countries addressed several questions about the regional and international quality assurance and accreditation initiatives.

Internationalisation and Trade in Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges

21 September 2004 (web page)

This book brings together up-to-date statistics, case studies and policy reports on the major trends and developments in cross-border post-secondary education in North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region.

Quality and Recognition in Higher Education: The Cross-border Challenge

4 August 2004 (web page)

With rapid growth in cross-border education and developments such as e-learning, for-profit providers, and remote campuses challenging accreditation frameworks, this book examines the situation in Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia, and Japan with a view towards working with UNESCO on a set of guidelines on quality provision in cross-border higher education.

Why Higher Education Is Not a Global Commodity

11 May 2001 (web page)

Philip G. Altbach, The Chronicle of Higher Education

American Accreditors Go Abroad

23 September 2005 (web page)

Burton Bollag, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Lessons of Deregulation

20 January 2006 (web page)

Gordon Davies, The Chronicle of Higher Education


International Quality Review and Distance Learning: Lessons from Five Countries

December 2004 (PDF)

This report on quality review of distance learning in five countries was produced for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s International Commission in order to better understand the nature of existing regulatory arrangements in the context of growth in electronically supported learning and in the import and export of higher education worldwide. Country case studies have been developed for Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Australia, and the U.K. Prepared by Robin Middlehurst and Steve Woodfield, Centre for Policy and Change in Tertiary Education, University of Surrey.

Is Accreditation Accountable? The Continuing Conversation Between Accreditation and the Federal Government

October 2003 (PDF)

This monograph addresses key issues in the current discussion between accreditation and the federal government as this relates to accountability and higher education. At stake is a centuries-old tradition of institutional autonomy and self-regulation. The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) now being discussed in Congress is driving this issue to the top of the academic agenda.

Specialized Accreditation and Assuring Quality in Distance Learning

CHEA Monograph Series 2002, Number 2 (PDF)

This report describes the work to date of programmatic accreditors in the area of distance learning. It explores the extent to which these accrediting organizations review distance learning as well as the standards, policies, and procedures they use.

Accreditation and Assuring Quality in Distance Learning

CHEA Monograph Series 2002, Number 1 (PDF)

This report describes the scope and impact of distance learning on higher education today. It identifies the primary challenges that distance learning poses for institutional accreditation and describes the thoughtful and comprehensive response to date of the accrediting community to assure quality in distance learning.

Distance Learning: Academic and Political Challenges for Higher Education Accreditation

CHEA Monograph Series 2001 (PDF)

The focus of this monograph is how distance learning challenges some fundamentals of the academic work and the politics of American higher education thereby challenging some related features of quality assurance and self-regulation that are at the heart of national, regional, and specialized accreditation.

Core Academic Values, Quality, and Regional Accreditation: The Challenge of Distance Learning

CHEA Monograph Series 2000 (web page)

A small set of core academic values is central to the history and tradition of higher education. Distance learning, however unintentionally, challenges these values, forcing reconsideration of their origins and the choices they represent. This paper focuses on regional accreditation as one of the oldest and most frequently used forms of institutional quality assurance in the United States.

Distance Learning in Higher Education (CHEA Update Number 3)

April 2000 (web page)

Produced by The Institute for Higher Education Policy as part of its ongoing work with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). This third issue continues to present the latest developments in this field.

Distance Learning in Higher Education (CHEA Update Number 2)

June 1999 (web page)

Produced by The Institute for Higher Education Policy as part of its ongoing work with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). This second issue presents some of the latest developments in this field.

Assuring Quality in Distance Learning: A Preliminary Review

April 1998 (PDF)

A report prepared for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation by The Institute for Higher Education Policy, Washington, DC

The Role of Accreditation and Assuring Quality in Electronically Delivered Distance Learning (CHEA Fact Sheet #2)

September 2001 (PDF)

This fact sheet includes information on who offers electronically delivered distance learning, how distance learning is reviewed for quality, and how accrediting organizations are held accountable for review of quality of distance learning.