Guidelines set forth in 1993 by the National Science Foundation allow only four-year colleges and universities to use ".edu" in their domain names.
Community colleges are required to have domain names that end in ".cc" followed by the school's state and country code. But because this domain name is confusing, some want access to the more familiar ".edu" suffix.
Some community colleges that registered their Web sites before 1993 have ".edu" in their Web addresses. In an effort to get around the restrictions other schools use ".org" or ".com."
The American Association of Community Colleges has repeatedly asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to change the policy to enable browsers to access school Web pages more easily.
Commerce Department spokeswomen Karen Rose acknowledged that the policy was outdated but said it could not be changed until the department selected a new contractor to oversee the ".edu" policy administration.
"We want to secure a new contractor who will be sympathetic and sensitive to the education community," Rose said. "The contractor will have a strong connection with education and will be tasked with establishing new rules for '.edu.'"
Approximately 1,200 of the nation's community colleges, including many N.C. domain names that end in the ".cc" suffix.
Randolph Community College President Richard Heckman said his school's Web address, www.randolph.cc.nc.us, is confusing. Heckman favors adopting the ".edu" suffix.
Heckman added that he feared prospective students had trouble finding the school's Web page. Because the school relies heavily on the Internet, a more recognizable Web address would help attract more students.
The N.C. community college system supports the switch in domain names, said Audrey Bailey, spokeswoman for the system's president, Martin Lancaster.
She said the system does not think the ".edu" suffix attached to community college domain names would be misleading browsers into thinking they were four-year colleges. "Community colleges are not competing with four-year institutions," Bailey said. "They are a supplement and provide services, such as work force training, that four-year colleges cannot."
Bailey said that allowing community colleges to use the ".edu" suffix would symbolically indicate that the schools are an important contributor to the educational system in America. "The value of switching is that it is another validation that community colleges are an important part of the education community."
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