SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE

The Southern Association of Schools and Colleges’ Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has a substantive change policy that is driven by U.S. Department of Education regulations (34 CFR 602.22). Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution. The types of substantive change and the procedures for addressing them appropriately may be found in the Commission’s policy on substantive change.

Substantive changes can be addressed in several ways. In the SACSCOC substantive change policy, the approach is based on reporting requirements, i.e., is notification and approval required before implementation of a substantive change, is just notification required, or is something else required. While this is convenient for a regulatory entity, a university is more likely to consider such changes from an organizational level approach such as (1) Program/Course Level, (2) School/College/Department Level, and (3) Institutional Level.

If a department, school, or college is contemplating one or more of the following changes at the Program/Course Level::

  1. Initiating coursework or programs at a different level than currently approved;
  2. Expanding at current degree level (significant departure from current programs);
  3. Initiating a certificate program at employer’s request and on short notice:
  4. Initiating other certificate programs:
  5. Initiating joint or dual degrees with another institution:
  6. Altering significantly the length of a program;
  7. Initiating degree completion programs;
  8. Closing a program approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution:

then the University may have to obtain approval or at least notify SACSCOC before the change can be implemented. More information about these changes can be found here.

If a department, school, or college is contemplating one or more of the following changes at the School/College/Department Level:

  1. Initiating an off-campus sites (including Early College High School programs offered at the high school):
  2. Expanding program offerings at previously approved off-campus sites:
  3. Initiating distance learning:
  4. Initiating programs or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium;
  5. Entering into a contract with an entity not certified to participate in USDOE Title IV programs;

then the University may have to obtain approval or at least notify SACSCOC before the change can be implemented. More information about these changes can be found here.

Finally, if the University is contemplating one or more of the following Institutional Level changes:

  1. Initiating a branch campus;
  2. Altering significantly the educational mission of the institution;
  3. Initiating a merger/consolidation with another institution;
  4. Changing governance, ownership, control, or legal status of an institution;
  5. Relocating a main or branch campus;
  6. Moving an off-campus instructional site (serving the same geographical area);
  7. Changing from clock hours to credit hours;
  8. Acquiring any program or site from another institution;
  9. Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out for students from another institution that is closing;

then the University may have to obtain approval or at least notify SACSCOC before the change can be implemented. More information about these changes can be found here.

Please contact the University’s SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison for more information and for procedures to follow to obtain the necessary approvals prior to implementation of the proposed action. The Accreditation Liaison will make “scans” of the vice presidents and deans to learn of any actions contemplated or in progress that will qualify as substantive changes and thus require compliance with this policy.

Neal E. Armstrong
Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Institutional Accreditation and SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison
Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost
FAC 424, G1000
(512) 232-3305
neal_armstrong@mail.utexas.edu

 

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