Decades after the rest of the world has moved most everything on line, including in some cases college itself, the U.S. Department of Labor now says that online advertisements in professional publications count as real employment advertisements.

According to a press release by the Association of International Educators:

The Department of Labor now allows use of an electronic or Web-based national professional journal instead of a print journal when conducting recruitment under… cases filed under “special handling” provisions for college and university teachers.

For years, DOL guidance had been that… an ad “must be placed in a national print professional journal.” DOL changed its [policy] on August 31, 2011 (albeit with the key restrictionslisted above), in response to a July 20, 2011… decision (Matter of The University of Texas at Brownsville). In that case, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals found that… the language in the special handling provision for college and university teachers… does not limit advertisements to print publications.

The decision allows American colleges to post online advertisements as part of the process of hiring foreign academics. The policy is designed to ensure that colleges make an effort to hire American academics before going abroad. Previous policy required colleges to post their open positions in print publications. The federal rule indicated that online advertisements didn’t constitute a good faith effort to recruit within the United States.

This may seem like a particularly technical bureaucratic decision, and it is, but it also has implications both for hiring and for many publications’ funding streams. The legal requirement that colleges must post open positions in print before they can hire foreign academics ensured a steady stream of employment advertisements in many periodicals. This is now over.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer