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Other Higher Education Issues

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With our focus on out-of-state activities of our institutions, we, more often than not, interact with our students online and with technology enhanced tools. Compliance with laws that ensure that all students have access to educational materials, is required.  Learn more from the WCET Accessibility Issue Page to properly support students with learning materials, so that they may be successful in their academic endeavors.


Accreditation agencies serve an important role in the Higher Education Triad.  Their role is to ensure that programs and institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality in teaching and learning and also promote continuous improvement in those areas.  The Higher Education Act (HEA) directs that the accreditors are responsible to maintain standards of practice on the quality of education.  The institutions of higher education are required to meet these standards to be accredited in order to provide federal financial aid to students. Federal regulations direct the implementation of the HEA for purposes of Title IV compliance.  New regulations with an impact on accreditation became effective on July 1, 2020.  See WCET Frontiers for articles related to accreditation.

Cybersecurity & Data Protection

Innovative technological advances, cutting edge research, intellectual property, and personal data are inherent to higher education.  Our institutions are able to serve students at a distance and in a dynamic manner.  However, best practices for data protection must be observed by the entire academic community, from students to leadership, to safeguard the institution from exposure to a data breach or infrastructure breakdown affecting services.  Read more on the WCET Cybersecurity & Data Protection Issue Page to learn how to help protect your institution.

Department of Homeland Security/Office of Academic Engagement - Campus Resilience Resource Library (Cyber Incidents)

U.S. Department of Education FSA Cybersecurity Compliance - Compliance Requirements & Resources

REN-ISAC; Research Education Networking Information Sharing & Analysis Center

Distance Education Definition

Distance education is defined by the U.S. Department of Education in Federal regulations for purposes of institution participation in Title IV HEA Programs.  However, accreditors, states, and other Federal agencies have slightly different definitions.  Additionally, higher education uses different terms to describe various but similar digital learning modalities including: “in-person,” “online,” “hybrid,” “hyflex,” “synchronous,” “asynchronous,” and others.

Learn more on the WCET Digital Learning Definitions webpage about the nuances of the definition of distance education and the variation of terms used to address digital learning.

Policy Brief - Regular and Substantive Interaction (requires SAN Member login)

Defining “Distance Education” in Policy: Differences Among Federal, State, and Accreditation Agencies 

Student Identity Verification

Rapid growth of online education has created a new and expanding environment for academic dishonesty.  Not only has there been identity fraud for the purposes of acquiring Title IV Federal Financial Aid, but also identity fraud for the purpose of course work completion for academic credit. Currently, accrediting agencies have deemed proctoring of exams and the use of user ID’s and Passwords as acceptable authentication systems.  However, new technologies have provided for new products that some institutions are incorporating into their authentication processes.  Learn more from the WCET Student Identity Verification Issue Page to gain insight as to methods and support  that your institutions may deem appropriate to prevent fraud.

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