Relations with Educational Accreditation Agencies Substantive Change

Purpose:  The purpose of this regulation is to outline the procedures to be followed to monitor, collect, and share information regarding any College District substantive change to ensure timely reporting of any such change to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Applicability:  This regulation applies to all College District employees and departments

Definitions:

Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs): For the purposes of this regulation, DRIs are particular College District administrators, at the level of Vice Chancellor (or the administrative equivalent) or above, who are charged with ensuring that SACSCOC’s Policy on Substantive Change (http://www.sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/SubstantiveChange.pdf) and the College District’s relevant policies and procedures are followed. Under this regulation, DRIs are also responsible for reviewing and approving substantive change proposals prior to submission to SACSCOC.

Substantive change: As used in this regulation, “substantive change” is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. For more detail and relevant examples, please see GK (LOCAL).

Significant departure: As used in this regulation, “significant departure,” with respect to an academic program, is present when the new program in question is not closely related to previouslyapproved programs at the institution or site or for the mode of delivery in question. The following questions serve as guidance to determine whether a new program represents a “significant departure”:

  • What previously approved programs does the institution offer that are closely related to the new program and how are they related?
  • Will significant additional equipment or facilities be needed?
  • Will significant additional financial resources be needed?

Roles and Responsibilities:  

Vice Chancellor of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness (VCPIE): The VCPIE serves as the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison (Liaison) and is responsible for ensuring the College District’s compliance with all SACSCOC policies. As the Liaison, the VCPIE and the Director of Accreditation Compliance are responsible for notifying SACSCOC of any and all substantive changes in a timely manner. The VCPIE delegates the day-to-day administrative work of SACSCOC compliance to the Director of Accreditation Compliance.

Director of Accreditation Compliance (Director): The Director is responsible for keeping College District employees informed of substantive change requirements and working closely with relevant personnel to assist the VCPIE in monitoring potential instances of substantive change. As such, the Director is responsible for e-mailing the College Presidents and Deans monthly about plans/ information regarding any off-campus sites or new instructional programs and preparing relevant reports that involve any policy changes, new off-campus sites, and enrollment patterns The Director is also responsible for maintaining the Accreditation Compliance website http://www.hccs.edu/district/aboutus/accreditation/ designed to keep the community informed of reported changes and developments related to substantive change. The Director also prepares documentation required for timely and complete notification of substantive changes to SACSCOC.

College Presidents (Presidents): Presidents provide oversight for off-campus course offerings by all divisions at their respective College and ensure that that deans and employees at their Colleges with responsibilities under this regulation are aware of and complying with relevant substantive change reporting requirements.

Deans: Deans serve as the substantive change contact for their instructional areas. In compliance with substantive change policy and procedure, Deans are responsible for keeping the Director informed of off-campus course offerings planned for future terms using the Substantive Change Submission/Approval Form (“Form”) [See EXHIBIT].

Vice Chancellors and Administrative Equivalents: These individuals work closely with the Director and the VCPIE to ensure compliance with the College District’s substantive change obligations as they pertain to their respective areas of responsibility.

Instructional Associate Vice Chancellors (IAVCs): IAVCs are responsible for reporting all new and discontinued programs to the responsible President, Vice Chancellor, and Director using the Form.

Associate Vice Chancellor (AVC) of Curriculum: The AVC of Curriculum oversees curriculum development and program closures for the College District and ensures that all curriculum changes and program closures are reported to the Vice Chancellor for Instructional Services and Chief Academic Officer (VCIS/CAO) and the Director using the Form.

Associate Vice Chancellor (AVC) for Communications and Marketing: The AVC for Communications and Marketing ensures all substantive changes are communicated to internal and external stakeholders as appropriate.

College Operation Officers: The College Operation Officers are responsible for providing their respective Presidents and the Director with any MOUs and leasing contracts associated with off-campus sites.

Procedures

Different types of substantive change require distinct approval/notification requirements, procedures, reporting timelines, and in some cases, approval, prior to implementation.

All individuals responsible for reporting potential substantive changes to the Director shall do so using the Form and observe the appropriate procedures set forth for each type of substantive change in the following tables.

No substantive change requiring SACSCOC approval or advance notification may be implemented until a letter of approval or an acceptance of notification is received from SACSCOC.

New Degree or Certificate Program

New Degree or Certificate Program: Upon receipt of a Form regarding a new degree or certificate program, the Director and VCPIE shall determine whether proposed changed represents a significant departure.

If so, the Form shall be forwarded to the appropriate party for approval. If duly approved by all requisite DRIs, the AVC of Curriculum and the Director will prepare the relevant prospectus and send it with accompanying documentation to SACSCOC after review/ approval by the Liaison.

If the new program is not a significant departure, the Director will prepare a notification letter to be sent to SACSCOC after review/approval by the Liaison. Due consideration shall be given to SACSCOC deadlines for notification and planned implementation dates.

Once SACSCOC approval is received, the Director will notify the AVC of Curriculum and update the Accreditation Compliance website. The AVC of Curriculum will update the College District webpage and academic catalog and notify the Executive Director of Financial Aid, as well as other key or impacted constituents.

The following table sets forth the reporting, procedural, notification, and approval requirements associated with New Degree or Certificate Programs:

Type of Change Contact SACSCOC Is prior approval from SACSCOC required before implementation Directly Responsible Individual
Other Approvals
Documentation
Initiating a new degree/certificate using existing approved courses After THECB approval No, but SACSCOC acknowledgement is needed if students placed in the program are to be eligible for federal financial aid. VCIS/CAO

THECB*
DOE**
Notification Letter or e-mail
Initiating a new degree/certificate that is a significant departure from current programs By Jan. 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation Yes VCIS/CAO

BOT***
THECB
DOE
Prospectus
Initiating a direct assessment competencybased program By March 15 for implementation planned for 1/1- 6/30; by September 1 for implementation planned for 7/1- 12/31 in the subsequent year Yes VCIS/CAO

THECB
Letter of notification, screening form and possible prospectus
Initiating a certificate program that is a significant departure from previously approved programs at employer’s request and on short notice At the discretion of SACSCOC staff  Yes VCIS/CAO

BOT
THECB
DOE
 Modified prospectus
Altering significantly the length of a program At the discretion of SACSCOC staff  Yes VCIS/CAO

THECB
DOE
Modified prospectus
Initiating degree completion programs By Jan. 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation  Yes VCIS/CAO

BOT
THECB
DOE
Prospectus

*THECB: The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
**DOE: United States Department of Education
***BOT: The College District’s Board of Trustees

Discontinued Degree or Certificate Program

Discontinued Degree or Certificate Program: Upon submission of a Form regarding a discontinued degree or certificate program, the AVC of Curriculum shall collaborate with the relevant Dean(s) to prepare appropriate documentation, as indicated on the Form, including teach-out plan(s) where necessary.

Thereafter, the Form, along with relevant documentation, shall be distributed to the requisite DRIs for approval. Once all approval signatures have been obtained, the Director shall prepare a letter of notification for submission to SACSCOC after review/approval by the Liaison.

Once SACSCOC approval is received, the Director will notify the AVC of Curriculum and update the Accreditation Compliance website. The AVC of Curriculum will update the College District webpage and academic catalog and notify the Financial Aid office, as well as other key or impacted constituents.

The following table sets forth the reporting, procedural, notification, and approval requirements associated with Discontinued Degree or Certificate Programs:

Type of Change Contact SACSCOC Is prior approval from SACSCOC required before implementation Directly Responsible Individual
Other Approvals
Documentation
Closing a program (internal teach-out plan) Immediately following the decision to close the program Yes VCIS/CAO

THECB
DOE
Description of teach-out plan and letter of notification

Offering Credit at a New Level

Offering Credit at a New Level: The Associate Degree is the highest degree the College District is accredited to award. Awarding a degree at a higher level requires the approval of the Texas State Legislature and the THECB.

Upon review of a Form proposing the College District offer credit at a new level; if permitted, the VCIS/CAO and the Director shall draft an application for level change. After review by the Liaison, the application shall be submitted to SACSCOC in accordance with curricular guidelines only after all requisite DRI approvals have been obtained.

Once SACSCOC approval is received, the Director will notify the AVC of Curriculum and update the Accreditation Compliance website. The AVC of Curriculum will update the College District webpage and academic catalog and notify the Financial Aid office, as well as other key or impacted constituents.

The following table sets forth the reporting, procedural, notification, and approval requirements associated with Offering Credit at a New Level:

Type of Change Contact SACSCOC Is prior approval from SACSCOC required before implementation Directly Responsible Individual
Other Approvals
Documentation
Initiating coursework or programs at a different level than currently approved By March 15 for implementation planned for 1/1-6/30; by September 1 for implementation planned for 7/1-12/31 in the subsequent year Yes VCIS/CAO

BOT
THECB
DOE
Application for level change

New Off-Campus Sites

New Off-Campus Sites: When any College District department anticipates offering credit courses comprising more than 50% of any previously approved program at any new location, the Dean, or the AVC of College Readiness that maintains the College District’s relationship with the local ISDs, shall notify the AVC of Curriculum and submit a Form to the Director at least six (6) months prior to the implementation date for an identification of reporting, procedural, notification, and approval requirements.

New off-campus sites at which a student earns less than 50% of his/her credits toward a program, however, also trigger notification requirements prior to implementation if the student is able earn at least 25% of those credits at the off-campus site. As such, the relevant Dean(s) and AVCs/IAVCs are required to closely monitor the potential impact of new/proposed off-campus sites.

Once all requisite DRI approvals have been obtained, and in accordance with institutional curricular guidelines, the Director and relevant Dean and/or the AVC of College Readiness shall prepare a prospectus for submission to SACSCOC after Liaison approval. Once SACSCOC approval is received, the Director will notify the relevant Dean and the AVC of Curriculum and update the Accreditation Compliance website. The AVC of Curriculum will update the College District webpage and academic catalog and notify the Financial Aid office, as well as other key or impacted constituents.

In addition, the Deans’ Council shall meet biannually to review all anticipated new off-campus sites and additional course offerings at non-approved sites to prepare for like substantive changes.

Type of Change Contact SACSCOC Is prior approval from SACSCOC required before implementation Directly Responsible Individual
Other Approvals
Documentation
Initiating off-campus sites where students can obtain 50% or more credits toward any program By Jan. 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation Yes VCIS/CAO

DOE
Prospectus
Initiating offcampus sites where students can obtain 25-49% credits toward any program Prior to implementation No VCIS/CAO

N/A
Notification Letter
Initiating offcampus sites where students can obtain less than 24% of credits toward any program N/A No VCIS/CAO

N/A
N/A
Offering previously approved program at previously approved offcampus sites N/A  N/A  VCIS/CAO

N/A
N/A
Initiating a certificate program at a new off-campus site at employer’s request and on short notice (previously approved program) At the discretion of SACSCOC staff  Yes  VCIS/CAO

N/A
Modified prospectus
Adding a site under a U.S. military contract for a previously approved program At the discretion of SACSCOC staff  Yes  VCIS/CAO

N/A
Modified Prospectus

Moving an Instructional Site

Moving an Instructional Site: After receiving the Form to move an off-campus site, the Director determines if the move is within the current service area or to a new service area. This distinction serves to inform the VCPIE or Director with respect to the reporting, procedural, notification, and approval requirements to be assigned on the Form.

In addition, if the stated purpose of the move is to attract a wider or different student base to the site, the move is considered to be to a new service area. For these moves, after all requisite DRI approval is obtained, the Director works with the Chief Facilities Officer (CFO) and President to prepare a prospectus and gather the appropriate documentation for submission to SACSCOC after review by the Liaison.

Once SACSCOC approval is received, the Director shall notify the AVC of Communications and Marketing of the new address so that appropriate communication throughout the institution, including, but not limited to, updating the website, occurs. The Director will notify the President, CFO, and VCIS/CAO of any final changes. For a site that is not being moved to a new service area, after all requisite DRI approval is obtained, the Director prepares a letter of notification for submission to SACSCOC after review by the Liaison. Once SACSCOC acknowledgement is received, the Director shall notify the AVC of Communications and Marketing of the new address so that appropriate communication throughout the institution, including, but not limited to, updating the website, occurs.

The following table sets forth the reporting, procedural, notification, and approval requirements associated with Moving an Instructional Site:

Type of Change Contact SACSCOC Is prior approval from SACSCOC required before implementation Directly Responsible Individual
Other Approvals
Documentation
Moving an offcampus site (within the same campus service area) Prior to implementation No (prior notification is required) VCIS/CAO with VCPIE

BOT
Notification Letter
Moving an offcampus site to a new service area By Jan. 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation Yes VCIS/CAO with VCPIE

BOT
THECB
Prospectus

Branch Campuses

Branch Campuses: Should the College District pursue the establishment of a new branch campus, a Form must be submitted so that the Director/VCPIE may articulate the applicable requirements.

Once all requisite DRI approval has been obtained, the Director, Liaison, and potentially other key stakeholders, shall prepare the prospectus and associated documentation. The Liaison will forward the documentation to the Chancellor’s Office for signature and submission to SACSCOC.

Once SACSCOC approval is received, the Director shall notify the AVC of Communications and Marketing so that appropriate communication throughout the institution, including, but not limited to, updating the website, occurs.

The following table sets forth the reporting, procedural, notification, and approval requirements associated with establishing Branch Campuses:

Type of Change Contact SACSCOC Is prior approval from SACSCOC required before implementation Directly Responsible Individual
Other Approvals
Documentation
Relocating a main or branch campus By Jan. 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation Yes VCPIE

BOT
Prospectus
Initiating a branch campus By Jan. 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation Yes VCPIE

BOT
Prospectus

Discontinuing Use of a Branch Campus or Instructional Site

Discontinuing Use of a Branch Campus or Instructional Site: When discontinuing a leasing agreement because the College District no longer needs to utilize a branch campus or instructional site location, a Form should be submitted to ensure proper procedural, approval, and other relevant requirements are met.

Once all requisite DRI approval is obtained, and the CFO has notified the Director of the leasing agreement, the Director shall immediately prepare a letter of notification for submission to SACSCOC after review by the Liaison.

If the intention is to discontinue offering dual credit classes at a previously approved high school, the AVC of College Readiness shall initiate the change with the Form.

Once SACSCOC approval is received, the Director shall notify the AVC of Communications and Marketing to update the College District webpage in the case of a leased site and notify the appropriate constituents. In the case of a dual-credit site, the Director shall notify the AVC of College Readiness that approval has been received to discontinue teaching at a dual credit site.

The following table sets forth the reporting, procedural, notification, and approval requirements associated with Discontinuing Use of a Branch Campus or Instructional Site:

Type of Change Contact SACSCOC Is prior approval from SACSCOC required before implementation Directly Responsible Individual
Other Approvals
Documentation
Closing an approved site (internal teach- out plan) Immediately following the decision to close the site Yes VCPIE

BOT
Description of teach-out plan and letter of notification
Closing an offcampus site or branch campus, where HCCS plans to teach out its own students Immediately following the decision to close the program Yes VCPIE

BOT
Description of teach-out plan and letter of notification

Contractual Agreements and Consortiums

Contractual Agreements and Consortiums: The following table sets forth the reporting, procedural, notification, and approval requirements associated with Contractual Agreements and Consortiums:

Type of Change Contact SACSCOC Is prior approval from SACSCOC required before implementation Directly Responsible Individual
Other Approvals
Documentation
Initiating programs or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium Prior to Implementation n No (prior notification is required) VCIS/CAO

N/A
Letter of Notification and copy of signed MOU
Initiating a merger or consolidation with another institution By 12/15 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By 6/1 for 1/1 – 6/31 implementation Yes VCPIE

BOT
THECB
Institutional Summary, BOT Prospectus
Acquiring any program or site from another institution By 12/15 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By 6/1 for 1/1 – 6/31 implementation Yes VCPIE

BOT
Institutional Summary, BOT Prospectus
Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out for students form another institution that is closing By 12/15 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By 6/1 for 1/1 – 6/31 implementation  Yes VCPIE

BOT
Institutional Summary, Prospectus
Entering into a contract with an entity not certified to participate in USDOE Title IV Programs if the entity provides 25% or more of an educational program offered by HCCS By Jan. 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation  Yes VCPIE

DOE
Prospectus
Entering into a contract with an entity not certified to participate in USDOE Title IV Programs if the entity provides less than 25% of an educational program offered by HCCS Prior to implementation No (prior notification is required) VCPIE

DOE
Letter of Notification and Copy of signed MOU

Change in Governance or Mission

Change in Governance or Mission: Any proposed change in the College District’s governance or mission requires the Chancellor’s approval prior to submission to SACSCOC.

The following table sets forth the reporting, procedural, notification, and approval requirements associated with a Change in Governance or Mission:

Type of Change Contact SACSCOC Is prior approval from SACSCOC required before implementation Directly Responsible Individual
Other Approvals
Documentation
Changing governance, ownership, control, or legal status of an institution By 12/15 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By 6/1 for 1/1 – 6/31 implementation Yes VCPIE

BOT
THECB
Institutional Summary, Prospectus
Altering significantly the educational mission of the institution At the discretion of the SACSCOC staff Yes VCPIE

BOT
THECB
Prospectus

Other Collaborative Programs

Other Collaborative Programs: After obtaining all of the appropriate signatures on the Form and, in coordination with the Liaison and other key stakeholders, the Director shall prepare the prospectus or other appropriate documentation when a prospectus is not required. If the implementation involves an Early College High School, the AVC of College Readiness shall assist in the creation of the prospectus and gathering the required documentation.

After his/her review, the Liaison shall obtain the Chancellor’s signature and then submit the documentation to SACSCOC. After SACSCOC approval is received, the Director shall notify the appropriate constituents, including the AVC of Communications and Marketing to update the College District webpage.

The following table sets forth the reporting, procedural, notification, and approval requirements associated with Other Collaborative Programs:

Type of Change Contact SACSCOC Is prior approval from SACSCOC required before implementation Directly Responsible Individual
Other Approvals
Documentation
Initiating a joint or dual degree with another SACSCOC institution Prior to implementation n No (prior notification is required) VCPIE

THECB
DOE
Copy of signed MOU and contact information for each institution
Initiating a joint or dual degree with at least one institution not accredited by SACSCOC At least 6 months prior to implementation Yes VCPIE

BOT
THECB
Copy of signed MOU and contact information for each institution
Initiating a joint or dual degree involving program expansion (significant departure) or initiating a new site where a student can obtain 50% or more credits toward a program. By Jan. 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation; By July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation Yes VCPIE

THECB
 Prospectus, copy of the signed agreement, and details according to SACSCOC policy

Office of Responsibility

Date Issued:  3/29/2017

GK (REGULATION)-X

Download Substantive Change Procedure [142 kbs]