Education Organizations Release Federal Policy Briefs Addressing Needed Modernizations To Higher Education Regulations

Briefs Authored by UPCEA, OLC, and WCET Cover Competency-Based Education, Financial Aid, Regular and Substantive Interaction, and State Authorization

WASHINGTON, DC - February 27, 2019 - Today, three organizations in higher education—UPCEA, OLC and WCET—have issued a set of policy briefs relating to necessary changes to federal regulations affecting the professional, continuing, and online education community. These papers address competency-based education, financial aid for the 21st century student, regular and substantive interaction, and state authorization.

The organizations have jointly issued these papers while talks relating to the ongoing rulemaking session are currently underway at the Department of Education to provide additional information to policymakers about the challenges that contemporary learners, and the institutions that serve them, often face. While many of these topics will likely be addressed by the current Department of Education negotiated rulemaking committee, the organizations recognize that others may require Congressional action.  

Policymakers interested in a flourishing 21st century workforce must encourage policies that support a 21st century higher education system. Adult learners, and students who engage in online education, can be stifled by outdated policies set up to serve a student population that has not existed for more than 50 years. Through these briefs, the organizations aim to change the conversation around these out-of-date regulations, and together be a stronger voice for innovative and contemporary education policy.

“Higher education institutions provide innovative programs and accessibility to the new normal of adult learners, but antiquated national policies don’t necessarily facilitate greater access to postsecondary learning for today’s students,” said Robert Hansen, CEO of UPCEA. “We hope that these papers will help inform policymakers as we work to expand access and best serve our students.”

“Addressing the needs of the 21st-Century learner includes creating an environment that supports effective use of digital and online learning,” said Kathleen Ives, Executive Director and CEO of the Online Learning Consortium. “Our hope is that our input and our insights are thoughtfully considered as policymakers contemplate the necessary changes for realigning policy with the needs of modern higher education, while addressing inclusion, diversity, equity and access for every student pursuing higher learning.”

Michael Abbiatti, Executive Director of WCET “strongly supports a policy environment that enables and empowers all learner communities to access and receive quality curated digital content and associated credentials in an affordable manner. The current Federal negotiation process must focus on quality assurance in process, content delivery, credentialing, and financial management at all appropriate levels.”

The series of policy briefs is the result of the collaborative efforts of UPCEA, OLC, WCET, and leaders at the member institutions of each organization.

The briefs are structured to inform current talks, as well as inspire solutions around these topics outside of the current negotiated rulemaking session.

You may access the reports here.

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UPCEA is the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA now serves the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. The association supports its members with innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities and timely publications. Based in Washington, D.C., UPCEA builds greater awareness of the vital link between adult learners and public policy issues. Learn more at

About Online Learning Consortium
The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including, best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research and expert guidance. The growing OLC community includes faculty members, administrators, trainers, instructional designers, and other learning professionals, as well as educational institutions, professional societies and corporate enterprises. Visit for more information.

About WCET
WCET (the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) is the leader in the practice, policy, & advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. WCET is a national, member-driven, non-profit which brings together colleges, universities, higher education organizations, and companies to collectively improve the quality and reach of technology-enhanced learning programs. Learn more at