1. Policy Statement

Accredited institutions with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) are required to notify SACSCOC of substantive changes, and when required, obtain approval before initiating such changes.  Failing to comply with the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures may cause an institution to lose its accreditation.  As a result, the institution may lose its Title IV funding or be required to reimburse the U.S. Department of Education for money received by the institution for programs related to the unreported substantive change.

  1. Applicability

Enterprise wide.

  1. Definitions

Branch campus means an off-campus instructional site or additional location:

  1. that is geographically apart from main campus;
  2. where instruction is delivered; and
  3. is independent of main campus.

An off-campus instructional site is independent of the main campus if it:

  1. is permanent;
  2. offers courses in educational programs leading to a degree, diploma, certificate, or other for-credit credential;
  3. has its own faculty and administrative or supervisory organization; and
  4. has its own budgetary and hiring authority.

Closure means the ending of instruction such that a student cannot complete their program of study as planned:

  1. in an educational program;
  2. at off-campus instructional site;
  3. in an educational program at an off-campus instructional site or main campus;
  4. by a method of delivery; or
  5. at an entire institution.

Competency-based education means a method of delivery in which competencies are learned through interaction with faculty and an academic credential is earned based on what students demonstrate they can do.  A competency is a well-defined statement of what a person can do as a result of learning.  Progression and completion are measured by demonstrated attainment of competencies.

  • Competency-based education by course/credit-based approach – Demonstrating competencies is embedded in a traditional curriculum with courses completed, credits earned, and a credential awarded.  Students typically enroll in an academic term and course credits are awarded at the end of the term by demonstrating mastery of the competencies associated with a course.  Students may accelerate learning through demonstration of competencies.  Transcripts record courses and grades, though the institution may opt to maintain a separate transcript of competencies.
  • Competency-based education by direct assessment – Progression and completion of a program is based solely on demonstrating mastery of prescribed competencies.  There are no academic terms (i.e., calendars), courses, or credit hours.  Students progress through a program’s competencies at their own pace within limits, if any, established by the institution.  The academic transcript consists of successfully demonstrated competencies and the level of mastery attained.

           

Cooperative academic arrangement means an agreement between a SACSCOC-accredited institution and another entity (or entities) to deliver program content recorded on the SACSCOC institution’s transcript as its own.  Examples include geographic or denominational consortia, statewide distance education agreements, collaborative agreements with international institutions, and contractual instruction.

 Correspondence courses means courses in which students and instructors are not in the same locations and in which instructional materials and learning assessments (such as examinations, assignments, creative works, etc.) are delivered electronically or by mail.  Interaction between instructor and the student is limited, is not regular and substantive, and is primarily initiated by the student.  Courses are typically self-paced within limits.

Distance education means a method of delivery in which the majority of instruction occurs when students and instructors are not in the same location.  It includes synchronous (live or in real-time) and asynchronous (not live or in real-time) instruction.

 Dual academic award means a student receives instruction at two (or more) institutions in prescribed curricula leading to each institution granting academic awards at the same credential level.

Educational program means a coherent course of study leading to a for-credit credential including a degree, diploma, certificate or other generally recognized credential.  Exception:  General education, for substantive change purposes, is usually considered a program even if a credential is not awarded.

Joint academic award means a student receives instruction at two (or more) institutions in prescribed curricula leading to the institutions granting a single academic award bearing the names, seals, and officials’ signatures of each participating institution.

Method of delivery means the principal method by which instruction is delivered to include:

  1. competency-based education (all forms);
  2. distance education; and
  3. face-to-face instruction.

 Notification means an official communication from an institution to SACSCOC summarizing the institution’s proposed change.  A notification is complete only when accepted by SACSCOC upon satisfactory review by staff.

 Off-campus instructional site or additional location means a location geographically apart from an institution’s sole main campus and where instruction is delivered.  An off-campus instructional site may qualify as a branch campus.

Teach-out agreement means an optional written agreement with an institution or entity under which students covered by a teach-out plan may complete their programs of study.  A teach-out agreement may include student eligibility criteria, time limits, fee waivers, tuition parity, or other negotiated terms.

 Teach-out plan means a written plan developed by an institution for students to complete their programs of study because it decided to end a program, off-campus instructional site, method of delivery, or to close the institution.  A teach-out plan provides an orderly process, the equitable treatment of students, minimal disruption and additional costs by students, and covers all enrolled students regardless of their progress to completion.

  1. Policy Specifics

 A. Changes Requiring Reporting

The University must comply with the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy by reporting substantive changes to SACSCOC concerning the following:

  • Substantially changing the established mission or objectives of an institution or its programs.
  • Changing the legal status, form of control, or ownership of an institution.
  • Changing the governance of an institution.
  • Merging/consolidating two or more institutions or entities.
  • Acquiring another institution or any program or location of another institution.
  • Relocating an institution or an off-campus instructional site of an institution (including a branch campus).
  • Offering courses or programs at a higher or lower degree level than currently authorized.
  • Adding graduate programs at an institution previously offering only undergraduate programs (including degrees, diplomas, certificates, and other for-credit credential).
  • Changing the way an institution measures student progress, whether in clock hours or credit-hours; semesters, trimesters, or quarters; or time-based or non-time-based methods or measures.
  • Adding a program that is a significant departure from the existing programs, or method of delivery, from those offered when the institution was last evaluated.
  • Initiating programs by distance education or correspondence courses.
  • Adding an additional method of delivery to currently offered programs.
  • Entering into a cooperative academic arrangement.
  • Entering into a written arrangement under 34 C.F.R. § 668.5 under which an institution or organization not certified to participate in title IV Higher Education Act (HEA) programs offers less than 25% (notification) or 25-50% (approval) of one or more of the accredited institution’s educational program. An agreement offering more than 50% of one or more of an institution’s programs is prohibited by federal regulation.
  • Substantially increasing or decreasing the number of clock hours or credit hours award or competencies demonstrated, or an increase in the level of credential awarded, for successful completion of one or more programs.
  • Adding competency-based education programs.
  • Adding each competency-based education program by direct assessment.
  • Adding programs with completion pathways that recognize and accommodated a student’s prior or existing knowledge or competency.
  • Awarding dual or joint academic awards.
  • Re-opening a previously closed program or off-campus instructional site.
  • Adding a new off-campus institutional site/additional location including a branch campus.
  • Adding a permanent location at a site at which an institution is conducting a teach-out program for students of another institution that has ceased operating before all students have completed their program of study.
  • Closing an institution, a program, a method of delivery, an off-campus instructional site, or a program at an off-campus instructional site.

 B. Responsibility

Responsibilities of Assistant and Associate Provosts, Vice Presidents, Deans, and Directors:

Assistant and associate provosts, vice presidents, deans, and directors have the fundamental responsibility to be generally aware of the Substantive Change Policy, inform the  appropriate associate provost at the earliest point possible of proposals that may be considered a substantive change for the university, and provide any data, information, or prospectus necessary to comply with SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy when requested.

Responsibilities of Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Associate Provost for Teaching and Technology

All substantive changes will be coordinated through either the Associate Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs or the Associate Provost for Teaching and Technology.   After the associate provost is notified of the substantive change, that associate provost will then notify the University’s SACSCOC liaison of the change(s) for communicating the change(s) with SACSCOC.

Responsibilities of the University’s SACSCOC Liaison:

The University’s SACSCOC liaison will:

  • Provide the appropriate associate provost with information about the SACSCOC substantive change policy. This includes, but is not limited to, maintaining a section on UF’s SACSCOC website concerning substantive change and sending information about substantive change to the Assistant/Associate Provosts, Vice Presidents, Deans, and Directors at least annually;
  • Coordinate with appropriate personnel to determine whether a proposed change is substantive;
  • Oversee the process of meeting SACSCOC submission deadlines and appropriate reporting of notifications or requesting approval of institutional substantive changes;
  • Coordinate with SACSCOC and the appropriate associate provost about any required follow-up action; and
  • Make recommendations to the Provost for updating this policy as SACSCOC policies and principles change.

The current university SACSCOC Liaison is:

Dr. Timothy Brophy
Director, Institutional Assessment
(352) 273-4476
tbrophy@aa.ufl.edu

C. Reporting Procedures

Appendix A is a complete listing of substantive changes, timeline for notification or approval, and documentation requirements for reporting the change to SACSCOC.

Notification of the University’s SACSCOC Liaison of Proposed Changes

Notification must be made to the University’s SACSCOC liaison at the earliest stage of consideration for any proposed change that could be deemed substantive according to the latest SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy.

Substantive changes must be implemented in accordance with the SACSCOC timeline and only after the SACSCOC liaison has confirmed that they have developed and submitted the required information and to SACSCOC.

Late Notification to University’s SACS Liaison

If a substantive change has been implemented without notification to the University’s SACSCOC liaison, the appropriate associate provost has responsibility to notify the University’s SACSCOC liaison immediately.  The University’s SACSCOC liaison is then responsible for notifying SACSCOC of the change as provided in the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures.

To ensure that proposals that may be considered substantive changes do not go unreported, assistant/associate provosts, vice presidents, deans, and directors should review internal processes to confirm timely reporting of substantive changes.

  1. Policy Violations

If the University is non-compliant with the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures, its accreditation may be in jeopardy.  The institution may lose its Title IV funding or be required by the U.S. Department of Education to reimburse it for money received by the institution for programs related to the unreported substantive change.  The University may take disciplinary action, up to and including termination, upon a finding of a violation of this policy.

  1. Questions

Please direct any questions concerning this policy to:

Cheryl L. Gater
Assistant Provost
352-392-4208
cgater@aa.ufl.edu

Appendix A

Program Changes

Type of Sub Change Action Required by SACSCOC By Whom in SACSCOC Timeframe for Submission to SACSCOC Prior to Planned Implementation Documentation Required by SACSCOC Timeframe for Notifying the University SACSCOC Liaison Prior to Implementation
Cooperative Academic Agreement with Title IV Entities (if 50% or more of a program is offered through the arrangement OR the SACSCOC institution could not deliver the program without the arrangement, i.e., it is dependent on the arrangement to deliver a program) Notification Any time before implementation Notification and associated SACSCOC-required documents At least 3 months prior to implementation
Cooperative Academic Agreement with Non-Title IV Entities – Between 25-50% of a program’s content recorded on FSU transcript Approval Executive Council January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Prospectus At least 10 months prior to implementation
Cooperative Academic Agreement with Non-Title IV Entities – Less than 25% of a program’s content recorded on FSU transcript Notification Any time before implementation Notification and SACSCOC-required documentation At least 3 months prior to implementation
Dual Academic Award An arrangement in which a student receives instruction at two (or more) institutions in prescribed curricula leading to each institution granting academic awards at the same credential level. Notification Any time before implementation Notification and SACSCOC-required documentation At least 3 months prior to implementation
Joint Academic Award with non-SACSCOC Institution(s). A student receives instruction at two (or more) institutions, where at least one is a non-SACSCOC institution or entity, in prescribed curricula leading to the institutions granting a single academic award bearing the names, seals, and officials’ signatures of each participating institution. Approval Executive Council January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Prospectus At least 10 months prior to implementation
Joint Academic Award with SACSCOC Institution(s). A joint academic award is one in which a student receives instruction at two or more institutions in a prescribed curriculum leading to the institutions granting a single academic award bearing the names, seals, and officials’ signatures of each participating institution. Notification Any time before implementation Notification and SACSCOC-required documentation At least 3 months prior to implementation
Adding a method of delivery to an existing program (applies when 50% or more is delivered by that method) Approval, if on Restriction; Notification, if not on restriction If Notification Only, any time before implementation.

January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Notification and SACSCOC-required documentation At least a month prior to implementation
Adding a new program with 50-100% new content (including certificates) Approval Executive Council January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Prospectus At least 10 months prior to implementation
Adding a new program with 25-49% new content (including certificates) Notification Any time before implementation Notification and SACSCOC-required documentation At least a month prior to implementation
Program closure (including certificates). Closure is defined as closed to admission or entry, not the cessation of instruction; i.e., closure date is when students can no longer start, not the date instruction ends. Approval Executive Council January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Teach-out Plan At least 10 months prior to implementation
Program Designed for Prior Learning. Initiating a program requiring students to possess prior learning as a condition of admission requires notification prior to implementation. Notification Any time before implementation. Notification and SACSCOC-required documentation At least a month prior to implementation
Program Length Change. A change in program length in which credit hours increase or decrease by 25% or more AND students’ expected time to completion increases or decreases by more than one term (including certificates) Approval Executive Committee January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Prospectus At least 10 months prior to implementation
Program reopening within five years of closure Notification Any time before implementation Notification and SACSCOC-required documentation At least a month prior to implementation

Off-campus Instructional Site / Additional Location Changes

Type of Sub Change Action Required by SACSCOC By Whom in SACSCOC Timeframe for Submission to SACSCOC Prior to Planned Implementation Documentation Required by SACSCOC Timeframe for Notifying the University SACSCOC Liaison Prior to Implementation
Adding an off-campus instructional site at which 25-49% of a program’s instruction is delivered Notification Any time before implementation. Notification and SACSCOC-required documentation At least a month prior to implementation
Adding an off-campus instructional site at which 50% or more of a program’s instruction is delivered Approval by extensive review SACSCOC Board of Trustees March 15 for review at the June meeting

September 1 for review at the December meeting

Prospectus At least 6 months prior to implementation
Relocating an approved off-campus instruction site. Moving instruction to a new location geographically separate from – i.e., noncontiguous to – the current location. Notification Any time before implementation. Notification and SACSCOC-required documentation At least a month prior to implementation
Relocating an approved branch campus Approval Executive Council January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Prospectus At least 10 months prior to implementation
Changing an off-campus instructional site name or address Notification Any time before implementation. Notification and SACSCOC-required documentation At least a month prior to implementation
Closing an approved off-campus instructional site Approval Executive Council January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Teach-Out Plan At least 10 months prior to implementation
Re-opening an approved off-campus instructional site within five years of the closure date Notification Any time before implementation. Notification and SACSCOC-required documentation At least a month prior to implementation

Institutional Changes

Type of Sub Change Action Required by SACSCOC By Whom in SACSCOC Timeframe for Submission to SACSCOC Prior to Planned Implementation Documentation Required by SACSCOC Timeframe for Notifying the University SACSCOC Liaison Prior to Implementation
Change in Measure of Student Progress to Completion. This includes changes from or to semester, trimester, or quarter academic calendars; time-based (i.e., calendar-based) or non-time based (i.e., competency-based) measures; and clock hour-based or credit hour-based measures. Approval Executive Committee January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Prospectus At least 10 months prior implementation
Governance Change. A governance change may include significantly altering governing board bylaws, the board’s scope of authority or responsibility, the number of board members, or how board members are selected. Notification + Approval SACSCOC Board of Trustees If Notification Only, any time before implementation.

March 15 for review at the June meeting

September 1 for review at the December meeting

Notification (at least six months prior to the meeting in which the prospectus will be reviewed)

 

Prospectus

 

At least 10 months prior implementation
Institution, Program, or Location Acquisition Notification + Approval SACSCOC Board of Trustees If Notification Only, any time before implementation.

March 15 for review at the June meeting

September 1 for review at the December meeting

Description of planned change.

Intended implementation date.

Intended BOT Meeting (June or December) and year for which institution will submit prospectus.

At least 10 months prior implementation
Institutional Contingency Teach-out Plan. An institutional contingency teach-out plan must be approved if any of the following occur:

a. the institution is placed or continued on probation or probation for good cause by SACSCOC,

b. SACSCOC acts to end the institution’s accreditation,

c. the institution’s state authorization is revoked,

d. the institution is on provisional certification for federal financial aid by U.S. Department of Education (USDE),

e. the institution is on reimbursement for federal financial aid by USDE, or

f. the institution is the subject of emergency action by USDE.

Approval Executive Committee January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Teach-out plan At least 10 months prior implementation
Level Change Embedded Specialist Degree Approval Executive Committee January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Level change application At least 10 months prior implementation
Merger/Consolidation Notification + Approval SACSCOC Board of Trustees If Notification Only, any time before implementation.

March 15 for review at the June meeting

September 1 for review at the December meeting

Notification (at least six months prior to the meeting in which the prospectus will be reviewed)

Prospectus

At least 10 months prior implementation
Mission Change Approval Executive Committee January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year

July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year

Prospectus At least 10 months prior implementation
Ownership, Means of Control, or Legal Status Change Notification + Approval SACSCOC Board of Trustees If Notification Only, any time before implementation.

March 15 for review at the June meeting

September 1 for review at the December meeting

Notification (at least six months prior to the meeting in which the prospectus will be reviewed)

 

Prospectus

At least 10 months prior implementation