April 18, 2014

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Maryland Puts Up Roadblocks to Online Ed.

Maryland has decided to stand athwart the internet, yelling “Stop!” The Maryland Higher Education Commission recently sent letters to numerous institutions across the country that offer online courses, demanding that they pay registration fees for the Maryland residents enrolled in them. However, there [are] no data available on how many are enrolled in online programs, or which programs they attend. . . .

On top of this, Maryland requires that online education programs undergo a lengthy accreditation review process, and now it seems to be vying for the title of least hospitable state in the union. (Meanwhile, the Department of Education is pursuing its plan to reinstate the requirement that distance education programs obtain accreditation in all states where they do business.)

The motives behind Maryland’s new restrictions couldn’t be clearer, according to Inside Higher Ed. The state wants to stifle programs that compete with the online programs offered by the University of Maryland University College. UMUC has already seen layoffs this year due to declining enrollment. With more than 34,000 students, it is an asset that the state will fight to defend.

The protectionism on display here is distasteful enough, but worse yet, the new regulations will fall hardest on those who already face steep obstacles to higher education.

Protectionism generally protects the haves against the have-nots. And, of course, all is proceeding as I have foreseen.