State university leaders in Maryland, in what they call a quest to expand college access to students across the state, are working to reverse an October decision by the Maryland Higher Education Commission that quashed an online doctoral program because it duplicated a face-to-face program at the historically black Morgan State University, reports the Baltimore Sun. The higher-education panel barred the University of Maryland from offering the program for community college administrators to in-state students, instead giving Morgan two years to add an online component to its program. The decision left the University of Maryland in the position of delivering a program to students from every state but Maryland. The university system’s Board of Regents has refused to drop the fight, arguing that the future of other online programs could be imperiled by the precedent. In an unusual move, the regents have asked the commission to reconsider the vote. “The decision completely ignores a stated priority in the 2009 Maryland State Plan for Higher Education,” wrote Board of Regents Chairman Clifford Kendall in a letter to the commission. “The State Plan supports access to degrees through online programs in order to meet ‘the needs of a largely working, adult population who require a flexible schedule.’ This decision sets a potentially debilitating precedent that will discourage universities from doing the very thing that MHEC’s state plan charges them to do.”

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