Utah is a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and Westminster College (WC) is an approved SARA institution, which means we adhere to established standards for offering post-secondary e-learning programs in all member states.
What is State Authorization?
State authorization is a legal term for a college's compliance with individual statutes and regulations in each state in which it operates, has a physical presence, or engages in educational services and programs. In 2016, Utah joined the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and Westminster was approved as a SARA institution in March 2017. We follow the established standards for offering post-secondary distance education among member states, and participation in SARA is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions with a primary campus in another state.
What is SARA?
Utah joined the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) in 2016, and WC became a SARA approved institution in October 2016. This means certain WC activities are allowed in all listed SARA states. This agreement among member states establishes comparable national standards for interstate offerings of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts, and more information can be found at http://www.nc-sara.org/.
State Authorizations for Professional Licensure
At Westminster College, programs in the licensed professions are designed to fulfill the educational prerequisites for licensure or certification in Utah. This means that when students graduate from a Westminster professional program, they have the minimum educational qualifications to apply for Utah licensure in their field.
For other U.S. states and territories, this may or may not be the case. Within a given profession, educational requirements for licensure vary from state to state. To assist students who now live or may one day live outside of Utah, Westminster is currently updating a resource that explains whether each Westminster professional program fulfills educational requirements for a license credential in each U.S. state and territory. Until that resource is complete, students who want assistance making this determination for themselves can contact either their program chair or that profession's licensure board in the state/territory of interest. NC-SARA’s Professional Licensure Directory provides contact information for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands for:
- Social work
- Teacher Education
If you need assistance in obtaining additional state contact information or have any additional questions, you may contact your program chair.
Potential Consequences of Moving to Another State
When you take courses online, where you live—the place from which you access academic resources, your location—matters. Westminster must be authorized (or otherwise allowed) by your state/territory to deliver your academic program to you. Students who begin an online program while residing in a state or territory where Westminster is authorized to offer online programs need to be aware that moving to a state or territory where the college is not authorized to offer the program may have negative consequences. While the college attempts to obtain authorization everywhere its students live, moving to a state or territory where the college is not authorized could result in the loss of eligibility for certain forms of financial aid and/or the inability to complete the academic program.
Licensing Board Changes and Periodic Reviews
Westminster College will review the licensing standards periodically. It is possible that a state/territory licensing board changes its requirements between Westminster’s periodic reviews.
While Westminster College is currently in the process of tracking issues related to international authorization and licensure, it is a student’s responsibility to understand requirements related to whether a degree will be recognized in a country other than the United States, how the collection of student data may be used in another country, and whether withholding taxes (in addition to the price of tuition) will apply. Some countries may not formally recognize foreign online degrees, which may have implications for students who later seek to enroll in other educational programs or seek employment with that country’s government or other employers requiring specific credentials.
International students considering an academic program that leads to a professional license should first confirm with the appropriate professional licensing board in their country of residence or the country where they intend to work as to whether a Westminster degree will be recognized when seeking licensure or certification.
Currently, students are restricted from participating in online courses from any institution located in the United States in the following countries:
- North Korea
Programs that lead to licensure:
At Westminster College, programs in the licensed professions are designed to fulfill the educational prerequisites for licensure or certification in Utah. In each program, Westminster College has not determined whether it meets the educational requirements for licensure in all other states within the United States, including U.S. territories. Students will need to inquire with additional states for information.
Student Consumer Complaints
Students who have a complaint against Westminster College should first file a complaint with the institution. If Westminster College does not resolve the complaint, students may file a complaint with the Utah Board of Regents at http://higheredutah.org/sara/. The Board of Regents will only consider complaints that were previously unresolved by the institution and may refer a complaint to another agency for investigation.
In addition, students involved with distance and correspondence education can file a complaint with their state’s enforcement authority.
Student Code of Conduct
Students who have complaints relating to issues that are covered by the student code of conduct should follow the institution’s process for filing a complaint. The student code of conduct is found in the student handbook, provided by the Office of Student Life.
Quality of Education
Students who have complaints relating to the school’s quality of education or other issues appropriate for its accrediting body to consider, can file a complaint with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities at www.nwccu.org. Copies of documents describing the school’s accreditation and state approval are available for review upon request.