Online education providers to face tougher accreditation procedures

More students than ever before are choosing to earn their degrees online, and filling out college applications for online schools. A convenient way for students to learn without having to sacrifice jobs or relocate, online education has come under intense scrutiny by education officials to ensure that applicants are being told the whole story, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Department of Education has issued more detailed regulatory guidelines for online colleges and universities offering web-based courses. The new legislation aims to ensure a higher degree of transparency in the accreditation of online learning providers, and education officials have called on regulatory bodies to keep a closer eye on what online colleges are doing.

Tighter accreditation regulations aim to make it harder for unscrupulous colleges to offer poor-quality programs to students solely for the purpose of maximizing revenues and gaining access to federal financial aid. Accreditation bodies have come under fire from members of Congress in the wake of fraud and deception allegations in recent months.

With online enrollment figures increasing every year, it is hoped that the new measures will help students to choose reputable programs at trustworthy schools. According to the 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, more than 5.6 million students were enrolled in online degree and certificate programs in the fall of 2009. 

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