Higher Learning Commission

Policy Title: Review of Institutional Change

Number: INST.F.20.050

The review process for requests for changes in educational programs and/or method of delivery shall be determined in the following two ways: (1) each affiliated institution shall be assigned a designation by the Commission according to its experience and maturity in offering new educational programs and new methods of delivery, including offering distance and correspondence education; (2) the Commission shall determine the complexity of the specific proposed changes being requested for approval.

As determined by the designation of the institution and the complexity of the change, the change request will be reviewed by one of the following: a Change Panel; a Change Visit to the institution; or a Desk Review. All such change requests will be presented for final review and approval by a Commission decision-making body.

Review of a Campus. Institutions seeking Commission approval of a campus or branch that houses a full range of instruction as well as administrative and support services shall provide a business plan for the new campus that specifies the following:

  1. the educational programs to be offered at the campus;
  2. the projected revenues, expenditures and cash flow at the campus; and
  3. the operational, management, and physical resources at the campus.

The specific change will be reviewed by an appropriate Substantive Change Panel composed of Commission peer reviewers. All such changes will be presented for final review and approval by a Commission decision-making body.

Within six months of the date the campus matriculates students and offers instruction, the Commission will conduct a campus visit.

Review of Additional Locations. The review process for additional locations offering 50% or more of an academic program shall be determined in the following two ways: (1) each affiliated institution shall be assigned a designation by the Commission according to its experience and maturity in offering new additional locations; (2) the Commission shall determine the complexity of the specific proposed changes being requested for approval. Such review shall include consideration of the institution’s fiscal and administrative capacity to operate that location. The only exception shall be for institutions approved for access to the expedited approval programs, Desk Review for Additional Locations and Notification Program for Additional Locations, as defined in this policy.

As determined by the designation of the institution and the complexity of the change, a change request will be reviewed through one of the following processes: a Change Panel; a Change Visit to the institution; or a Desk Review. All such change requests will be presented for final review and approval by a Commission decision-making body.

Within six months of the date an institution matriculates students and begins instruction at any of its first three new additional locations, the Commission will conduct an on-site evaluation visit to that additional location.

Expedited Approvals of Additional Locations: Notification Program for Additional Locations. Institutions that have previously received approval from the Commission to initiate at least three additional locations may seek access to the Notification Program for Additional Locations. Such access shall reflect the Commission’s determination that the institution has a proven record of educational and administrative oversight of such locations and has the capacity to extend that oversight to new additional locations. An institution’s request for initial access to the Notification Program will be granted only after the institution has been reviewed by a Change Visit or other review resulting in a written report that documents the institution’s compliance with appropriate requirements as outlined in this policy. Staff may act to remove an institution temporarily or permanently from the Notification Program in the following circumstances: 1) when an institution’s capacity to provide appropriate oversight over its existing or future additional locations has been called into question; 2) when it has been placed on sanction or Show-Cause; or 3) when it has had its accreditation withdrawn even though such action may be stayed while pending appeal or other proceeding.

An institution with access to the Notification Program for Additional Locations will be able to open new additional locations as defined in the institution’s Statement of Affiliation Status after notifying the Commission prior to initiating any new additional locations and receiving an acknowledgment that the Commission has added the new additional location to its database.

Access to the Notification Program for Additional Locations will be granted only to institutions that meet the following criteria:

  1. accreditation by the Commission, prior to seeking access to the streamlined process, for at least 10 consecutive years with no record of any action during that period for Probation, Show-Cause, or monitoring of issues related to the quality of instruction or to the oversight of existing additional locations or campuses;
  2. an institution that has been on Warning for issues unrelated to the quality of instruction or oversight of additional locations or campuses and was approved for the Notification program prior to being placed on Warning may seek readmission to the Notification program after the next comprehensive evaluation or after a period of four years, whichever is longer; if the Warning was related to the quality of the institution’s off-campus instruction or related issues, the institution may not reapply until it has completed the ten years of good standing required for access to the Notification Program for Additional Locations;
  3. demonstrated success in overseeing more than three locations;
  4. no other Commission or other legal restrictions on additional locations and/or programs offered off campus; and
  5. appropriate systems at the institution to ensure quality control of locations that include clearly identified academic controls; regular evaluation by the institution of its locations; a pattern of adequate faculty, facilities, resources, and academic/support systems; financial stability; and long-range planning for future expansion.

Continued institutional eligibility for access to the Notification Program for Additional Locations will be reviewed at least every five years, typically in conjunction with the comprehensive evaluation and the multi-location visit.

An institution with access to the Notification Program for Additional Locations that undergoes a Change of Control, Structure or Organization as defined in Commission policy INST.B.20.040 will no longer be eligible for such review until such time as it demonstrates at the time of the next comprehensive evaluation after the transaction is approved by the Commission that it continues to meet the requirements for inclusion in the program.

Approval of Other Substantive Changes. The specific change requested by the institution will be reviewed by an appropriate Desk Review, Change Panel or by a Change Visit at the institution, as determined by Commission staff. All such changes will be presented for final review and approval by a Commission decision-making body.

Substantive Change Review Process Structure

Commission Change Panel. A Commission Change Panel shall consist of three or more Commission Peer Reviewers designated by the Commission who shall review applications for approval of substantive change submitted by institutions.

The Change Panel may seek additional information from the institution if such information is being sought to explain or clarify the materials provided by the institution in its application for change.

The Change Panel may recommend that the change be denied or that it be approved with or without additional monitoring as appropriate. Such recommendation will then be forwarded to an appropriate Commission decision-making body. The institution shall be given an opportunity to review the recommendation and provide an institutional response prior to consideration of the recommendation by the decision-making body.

Alternatively, the Change Panel may recommend that the change be further evaluated by an on-site evaluation team, either by a Change Visit or by a previously scheduled focused or comprehensive evaluation. The Change Panel may seek additional information from the institution if such information is being sought to explain or clarify the materials provided by the institution in its application for change.

Commission Change Visit. A Change Visit shall consist of a team of two or more Commission peer reviewers designated by the Commission who shall review applications for approval of substantive change submitted by institutions.

The Change Visit team may recommend that the change be approved, approved subject to additional monitoring, or denied. Such a recommendation will then be forwarded to an appropriate Commission decision-making body. The institution shall be given an opportunity to review the recommendation and provide an institutional response prior to consideration by the decision-making body.

Commission Desk Review. A Commission Desk Review shall consist of a review of a proposed institutional change conducted by an individual Commission official. The Desk Review will result in a recommendation for approval of substantive change to an appropriate Commission decision-making body.

 

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Related Policies

INST.B.20.030
Accreditation

Policy History

Last Revised: February 2014
First Adopted: November 1999, June 2010
Revision History: November 1999, June 2009, June 2011, June 2012, November 2012, February 2014
Notes: Policies combined November 2012 – 3.2(b)1.1, 3.2(b)1.2, 3.2(b)1.3, 3.2(b)1.4, 3.2(b)1.4a, 3.2(b)1.4b, 3.2(b)1.4c, 3.2(b)1.4d, 3.2(b)1.4e, 3.2(b)1.5, 3.2(b)2, 3.2(b)2.1, 3.2(b)2.2, 3.2(b)2.3

Policy Number Key

Section INST: Institutional Policies

Chapter F: Maintenance and Monitoring

Part 20: Intermittent Monitoring

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