Press Releases

NC-SARA Releases 8th Annual Data Report

Updated by on Mon, 10/02/2023 - 16:21
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                          CONTACT
October 3, 2023                                                                        

                     New Report: Out-of-State Exclusively Distance Education                                                           Steady Three Years After Pandemic

               NC-SARA Releases 8th Annual Data Report on Exclusively Distance                            Education Enrollment & 2022 Out-of-State Learning Placements

BOULDER, CO. (OCTOBER 3, 2023) - The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) - a nonprofit organization that helps expand access to educational opportunities and ensure more efficient, consistent, and effective regulation of distance education - today released its eighth annual data report, which provides insights into trends in student enrollment in distance education across 2,364 SARA-participating institutions. 

According to the report, the number of State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) students enrolled exclusively in distance education decreased year-over-year between 2021 and 2022, but is still significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels. This year's annual data report, titled "Technical Report for Fall 2022 Exclusively Distance Education Enrollment & 2022 Out-of-State Learning Placements," presents valuable data on exclusively distance education enrollments and out-of-state learning placements from SARA-participating institutions across the United States.

“Institutions of every type are now using distance learning to expand access, increase affordability, and reach new student demographics,” said Marianne Boeke, president of NC-SARA. “This research is just the latest benchmark to affirm the critical impact that distance education continues to have in our system of higher education as we work to meet the complex needs and aspirations of today’s learners.” 

NC-SARA's latest data report captures essential trends in higher education, focusing on the growth and transformation of distance education and the widespread impact of out-of-state learning placements. The report compiles data from 2,364 SARA-participating institutions, marking a 2% increase in participating institutions compared to the previous year. 

Key Highlights from the Report:

  • Exclusively Distance Education Enrollments: In Fall 2022, a total of 1,500,912 students attended out-of-state institutions exclusively through distance education via SARA. While this figure remains consistent with the Fall 2021 enrollment numbers, it represents a 12% decrease from the peak of 1.7 million students observed in Fall 2020.
  • Sector Breakdown: Public institutions continue to be the largest sector in SARA, accounting for 49% of participating institutions, while private nonprofit and for-profit institutions constitute 44% and 7%, respectively. Additionally, there are 5 tribal institutions actively participating in SARA.
  • Out-of-State Learning Placements (OOSLP): The report not only delves into data trends but also emphasizes the importance of out-of-state learning placements, which include clinical rotations, student teaching, internships, and other practical experiences necessary for degrees and licenses. 2022 saw a substantial increase in OOSLP participation, with 372,040 students from reporting SARA institutions engaging in out-of-state learning placements, compared to 315,504 in the previous year.
  • OOSLP Fields: The majority of out-of-state learning placements (60.4%) were in healthcare-related programs, followed by education (7.3%) and business (5.1%). The remaining 27.2% of OOSLPs were part of various other fields, including engineering and social sciences.

SARA is a collaborative effort comprising 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with a mission to promote high-quality distance education and ensure regulatory compliance across state lines. The data in this report was collected from 2,364 SARA-participating institutions. Each year, NC-SARA captures data on the number of students enrolled exclusively in distance education courses and out-of-state learning placements from SARA-participating institutions through a robust data collection and reporting process as part of the state oversight and compliance process. 

To learn more about the process for annual data reporting, colleges and universities can reference the NC-SARA Data Reporting Handbook and other resources for data reporting on the NC-SARA website. Read an executive summary of the data report and access full interactive data dashboards here. NC-SARA will also be hosting a webinar on Tuesday, October 10, 2023 at 12:00 PM MT to further discuss the findings. Presenters will also demonstrate NC-SARA's Data Dashboards and share other learning tools to help SARA-participating institutions glean insights from the data.


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 About State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA):

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) is a voluntary, interstate reciprocal approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. The initiative is administered by the country’s four regional higher education compacts (MHEC, NEBHE, SREB and WICHE) and coordinated by NC-SARA. Member states and SARA-participating institutions that choose to participate agree to operate under common standards and procedures, providing a more uniform and less costly regulatory environment for institutions and more focused oversight responsibilities from states. 

Website: Twitter: @NC_SARA