Quinn signs higher education legislation at the Illini Union

Gov.+Quinn+signs+pieces+of+legislation+that+help+to+streamline+enrollment+in+online+classes+across+state+lines.

Gov. Quinn signs pieces of legislation that help to streamline enrollment in online classes across state lines.

Gov. Pat Quinn came to the University campus Friday to sign a bill that has far-reaching effects on higher education throughout Illinois.

The bill, the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, or SARA, will allow Illinois to join with the members of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, helping to streamline enrollment in online classes across state lines.

Allen Philips, of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, spoke just before Quinn signed the bill, saying it was necessary to help out-of-state students receive quality education in online courses.

“The problem has been that if an Illinois institution wants to offer a course to a student in another state, that course has to be approved by that state,” he said. “So if we have 54 students in 54 states wanting to sign up for one class, it has to be approved 54 different times in 54 different states.”

Philips said altogether, factoring in the hundreds of thousands of online courses offered by colleges and Universities throughout the state, it “gets to be a huge problem.”

He explained that SARA gives online courses from Illinois and other Universities in the Compact the seal of approval automatically, taking the approval process out of the equation, as long the class has an equivalent in the corresponding state.

“It creates opportunities for students in the state of Illinois, but more importantly, it provides the opportunity for our great institutions to reach out to other states and allow them to take these courses and programs,” Philips said.

Enrollment in the Compact means that states must maintain common standards in each online course.

“Distance learning allows students to take courses that may not be offered where they are attending college or at times that are more convenient for the,” said State Rep. Robert Pritchard (R-Sycamore), who sponsored the bill, in a press release.

Quinn signed the bill with administrators from the University system, and other officials, standing behind him. He said the bill plays into his larger agenda of assisting higher education in a state that had more than 323,000 students enrolled in online classes last year.

“There’s more to do, more to build … President Easter gave me projects for the University campus here, as well as over in Springfield and up in Chicago as well. So we’re rolling up our sleeves, we got to keep on going forward on behalf of the common good of all of the people of Illinois,” Quinn said.

Austin can be reached at [email protected] or @austinkeating3.