Distance Learning Students: Registration and Filing of Complaints or Grievances
Registration of Distance Programs
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University’s degree and certificate programs delivered through distance education are registered with the State University of New York (SUNY) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is a national initiative to provide more access to online courses while maintaining compliance standards with state regulatory agencies. SARA is a voluntary agreement among its members states that allows institutions to provide online courses outside of their own state borders by seeking and maintaining state approvals via a streamlined process. To learn more about SARA, visit: nc-sara.org. New York State joined SARA on December 9, 2016 and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) approved institutional participation for SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University.
Students Residing Outside New York State and Taking Distance Education Courses
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). As a participating institution, SUNY Downstate can enroll residents of other SARA participating states in its distance education courses and programs. This policy only applies to students taking distance learning courses from outside of New York State.
Programs Leading to Professional Licensure
SARA does not affect state professional licensing requirements. Please note that certain programs leading to professional licensure may be subject to additional state professional licensing requirements, which are not covered by SARA. Students and prospective students are encouraged to consult with their own state and/or professional licensing body to ensure that any courses taken or degrees/certificates earned in an online program at SUNY Downstate will be accepted in their home state.
SUNY Downstate Students Participating in Out-of-State Field Experiences or Learning Placements
As a participant in and member of SARA, SUNY Downstate registered students who are participating in an authorized supervised field experience or a learning placement outside of New York State are considered distance education students for purposes of SARA. SUNY Downstate is a member of SARA and students who participate in out-of-state experiences may participate in those experiences and will receive credit for those experiences that are successfully completed through their course registration at SUNY Downstate. (SARA Policy Manual, Version 22.1, June 27, 2022, Section 5.2, N3)
Complaint Resolution Procedures
Federal regulations require institutions delivering distance education courses to provide students and prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with (1) the state approval or licensing entity in the institution's home state and (2) any other relevant state official or agency that would appropriately handle a student complaint.
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and follows the complaint resolution policies and procedures outlined within the SARA Policy Manual and summarized here. Consumer protection complaints resulting from distance education courses, activities, and operations may be submitted to SUNY Downstate for investigation and resolution, as described below. If a student is dissatisfied with the campus-based resolution, a concern may be submitted to System Administration of the State University of New York as outlined here. And, if still not satisfied, a complaint may be submitted, within two years of the incident about which the complaint is made, to the New York State Education Department as outlined here. Please note, this does not include complaints related to grades or student conduct violations, both of which are to be fully addressed via campus processes, not through the NC-SARA complaint resolution procedures
SARA requires SUNY Downstate to provide all students taking courses under SARA's provisions with information on SUNY Downstate’s and SARA's complaint resolution policies and procedures. SARA applies solely to distance education activity conducted across state lines. It does not apply to distance education activities inside New York State. Only those complaints resulting from distance education courses or activities offered to students in other SARA states come under the terms of SARA. Complaints from in-state students are to be resolved under SUNY Downstate’s provisions (see below), not those of SARA.
Complaints against SUNY Downstate resulting from distance education courses or activities offered to students in other SARA states should first go through SUNY Downstate’s procedures for resolution of grievances. Please refer to SUNY Downstate’s Complaint Resolution Procedure, which outlines how students can have their complaints evaluated, referred and appropriately addressed. (See “Filing of Formal Student Complaints”.)
If a person bringing a complaint resulting from distance education courses or activities offered to students in other SARA states is not satisfied with the outcome of SUNY Downstate’s process for handling complaints, the complaint (except for complaints about grades or student conduct violations) may be appealed through SARA's provisions, within two years of the incident about which the complaint is made. Please refer to NC SARA's State Portal Entity Contacts for a list of student complaint contact information by state and agency. For more information about how to file complaints as an out-of-state student, visit the NC-SARA web site.
Complaints regarding student grades or student conduct violations are governed entirely by SUNY Downstate policy and the laws of the State of New York. For information on how to resolve these complaints, see the applicable annual Student Handbook in the Student Policies section.
For more information on filing complaints with the State University of New York (SUNY) or the New York State Education Department (NYSED), please refer to the NYSED Office of College and University Evaluation's Student/Public Resources webpage.
Adopted/Updated: November 23, 2022
Approved by: Council of Deans