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Handbook of Operating Procedures
Chapter 2 - Faculty and Academics
Previous Publication Date: March 11 2021
Publication Date: March 30, 2021
Responsible Executive: VP for Academic Affairs


2.35 Substantive Change Procedures Required to Obtain Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Approval


I. POLICY STATEMENT


The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) must approve all changes proposed by The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) considered to be substantive according to its Substantive Change Policy and Procedures found on the SACSCOC website. This approval must be granted prior to implementation of changes. Materials will be submitted to SACSCOC for approval in addition to required institutional, The University of Texas System (UT System) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) approvals as needed.


II. RATIONALE


This policy outlines the procedures which UTSA must follow to comply with the SACSCOC’s  Substantive Change Policy and Procedures, in adherence with U.S. Department of Education regulations (34 CFR 602.22). Adherence to this policy will ensure UTSA avoids sanctions and penalties associated with non-compliance.


III. SCOPE


This policy applies to all changes at UTSA that fall under the scope of the SACSCOC's policy, Substantive Change Policy and Procedures.   


IV. WEBSITE ADDRESS FOR THIS POLICY


http://www.utsa.edu/hop/chapter2/2.35.html


V. RELATED STATUTES, POLICIES, REQUIREMENTS OR STANDARDS


UTSA or UT System Policies or the Board of Regents Rules & Regulations        

  1. The University of Texas System (UT System) Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Rule 40307, Academic Program Approval Standards      
  1. Texas Administrative Code
    Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 5, Subchapter C, Rule 5.45 – Criteria for New Baccalaureate and Master’s Degree Programs
  2. Texas Administrative Code
    Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 5, Subchapter C, Rule 5.46 – Criteria for New Doctoral Programs
  3. Texas Administrative Code
    Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 4, Subchapter P, Rules 4.255 through 4.264 – Approval of Distance Education Courses and Programs for Public Institutions  
  4. Texas Administrative Code
    Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 5, Subchapter D, Rule 5.76 – General Principles for Off-Campus Educational Units
  5. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
    Policies regarding Off-Campus Education Unit Designation for Universities and Health-Related Institutions
  6. SACSCOC- Substantive Change Policy and Procedures
  7. SACSCOC- Merger/Consolidation, Acquisition, Change of Ownership, and Change of Governance, Control, Form, or Legal Status  
  8. SACSCOC- Distance Education and Correspondence Courses
  9. SACSCOC- Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards:  Policy and Procedures
  10. SACSCOC-The Accreditation Liaison
  11. U.S. Department of Education  34 CFR 602.22

VI. CONTACTS


UTSA’s Accreditation Liaison, at kasey.neece-fielder@utsa.edu

UTSA’s Director for Accreditation and Process Improvement at lorrie.smith@utsa.edu.

Academic Affairs – 210-458-4110


VII. DEFINITIONS


Academic-Related (College/Department/Program Level) Change:  Most academic-related changes deemed to be substantive can only be initiated with prior University, UT System and THECB approvals before submission for notification/approval to the SACSCOC.  SACSCOC approval must be obtained prior to implementation.  The following changes are considered by UTSA to be academic-related changes that require the notification/approval of the SACSCOC prior to implementation. For a complete list, refer to the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures.

      1. Initiating coursework or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from those which were offered when UTSA was last evaluated by the SACSCOC;
      2. Adding a program (program includes a degree, diploma, certificate, or other for-credit credential) that is a significant departure from the existing programs (25-49% new content requires notification and 50-100% new content requires approval);
      3. Adding an additional method of delivery to a currently offered program where 50% or more of the program is delivered by that method;
      4. Adding an off-campus instructional site where students can obtain 50% or more credits toward a program, including but not limited to Early College High School, dual enrollment programs offered at a high school (requires approval);
      5. Adding an off-campus instructional site where students can obtain 25-49% of credits toward a program, including but not limited to Early College High School, dual enrollment programs offered at a high school (requires notification);
      6. Increasing the number of credits students can obtain toward a program at an off-campus instructional site to 50% or more (requires approval);
      7. Relocating an off-campus instructional site (must serve the same geographic area or pool of students);
      8. Expanding program offerings at previously approved off-campus instructional sites by adding programs that ARE significantly different from current programs at the site AND at the institution;
      9. Re-opening a previously closed program or off-campus instructional site;
      10. Entering into a cooperative academic arrangement;
      11. Initiating programs or courses offered through a contractual agreement or consortium;
      12. Initiating a dual or joint educational program or degree;
      13. Changing the way UTSA measures student progress, whether in clock hours or credit hours; semesters, trimesters, or quarters; or time-based or non-time based methods or measures;
      14. Increasing or decreasing the number of credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program (must both cross the numeric threshold of 25% and impact the expected time of completion by one term or more for a typical student in the program);
      15. Closing a program, a method of delivery, an off-campus instructional site or a program at an off-campus instructional site (requires a teach-out plan and approval).

Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards: Defined by the SACSCOC as agreements between institutions accredited by the SACSCOC and accredited or non-accredited degree-granting institutions of higher education throughout the world for purposes of awarding academic completion awards (e.g., certificates, diplomas, or degrees). These agreements are required to be reviewed every two years to meet SACSCOC requirements. A dual academic award is one whereby a student receives instruction at two (or more) institutions in prescribed curricula leading to each institution granting academic awards at the same credential level.

Note:  Dual enrollments—high school students taking college courses for concurrent credit— are not included in this definition and not covered by this policy.

Joint academic award is one whereby 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.

Approval: An official action by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees enabling an institution to implement a proposed substantive change. An institution secures approval by submitting a substantive change prospectus or application subject to satisfactory review by the Board of Trustees.

Branch campus: A location of an institution that is geographically apart and independent of the main campus of the institution. A location is independent of the main campus if the location is permanent in nature; offers courses in educational programs leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential; has its own faculty and administrative or supervisory organization; and has its own budgetary and hiring authority.

Change of ownership: The sale or transfer to, or acquisition by, a new owner of all, or a substantial portion, of the institution’s assets, or the assets of a branch campus or site.

Closure: Closure of a program is defined as closed to admission or entry, not the cessation of instruction. The closure date should be the date when students can no longer start the program.

Competency-based education: 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.

Consolidation: The combination or transfer of the assets of at least two distinct institutions (to that of a newly-formed institution. An example includes two colleges consolidating to form a new institution. (See also Change of ownership and Merger.)

Cooperative Academic Arrangement: 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. These agreements are required to be reviewed every two years in order to meet SACSCOC requirements. There are three types of substantive change cooperative academic arrangements:

  • Cooperative Academic Arrangement with Title IV Entities – An agreement with a title IV entity (or entities) where 50% or more of a program is offered through the arrangement UTSA could not deliver the program without the arrangement, i.e., it is dependent on the arrangement to deliver the program. If at least one of these criteria is met, notification is required.

  • Cooperative Academic Arrangement with Non-Title IV Entities (Approval required)– An agreement with an entity (or entities) not certified to participate in U.S. Department of Education title IV programs to deliver 25-50% of a program’s content recorded on UTSA’s transcript as its own requires SACSCOC approval prior to implementation.

  • Cooperative Academic Arrangement with Non-Title IV Entities (Notification required) – An agreement with an entity (or entities) not certified to participate in U.S. Department of Education title IV programs to deliver less than 25% of a program’s content recorded on UTSA’s transcript as its own requires notification prior to implementation.
  • Note:  An agreement offering more than 50% of one or more of an institution’s programs is prohibited by federal regulations.

Correspondence courses: A formal educational process under which the institution provides instructional materials, by mail or electronic transmission, including examinations on the materials, to students who are separated from the instructor. Interaction between the instructor and the student is limited, is not regular and substantive, and is primarily initiated by the student; courses are typically self-paced.

Distance education: A method of delivery in which 50% or more 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.

Institutional Level Change:  non-academic or administrative-related change that can only be initiated with the prior approval of UT System and the THECB before submission for approval to the SACSCOC.  Institutional level changes are considered substantive and cannot be implemented until SACSCOC approval is obtained.  For a complete list, refer to the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures. Examples of institutional level changes are:

      1. Substantially changing UTSA's established mission or the objectives of UTSA or its programs;
      2. Changing UTSA's legal status, governance, form of control, or ownership;
      3. Merging or consolidating two or more institutions or entities;
      4. Establishment of a branch campus;
      5. Closing a branch campus or institution (and initiating related teach-out agreements);
      6. Acquiring another institution or any program or location from another institution;
      7. Adding a permanent location at a site where UTSA is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution;
      8. Initiating a merger/consolidation;
      9. Relocating an institution (including a branch campus); or
      10. Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of the accredited institution’s programs.

Merger: The acquisition by one institution of another institution's assets. An example includes an institution accredited by SACSCOC acquiring the assets of a non-accredited institution. (See also Change of ownership and Consolidation.)

Method of delivery: The principal method by which instruction is delivered to include competency-based education (all forms), distance education, and face-to-face instruction.

Non-Title IV Entity: An entity that is not certified to participate in U.S. Department of Education title IV programs OR is an administrative organization or unit that administers or coordinates academic programs across multiple educational institutions or providers, provides or is involved in aspects of education instruction, and one or more educational institutions or providers participating in the administrative organization is not certified to participate in U.S. Department of Education title IV programs.

Notification: An official communication from UTSA’s chief executive officer, or his/her designated representative (Accreditation Liaison), to the SACSCOC about a proposed change. A notification is complete only when accepted by the SACSCOC upon satisfactory review by staff.

Off-campus instructional sites: Any facilities located geographically apart from the main campuses of UTSA where instruction is delivered.

Program: A coherent course of study leading to a for-credit credential including a degree, diploma, certificate or other generally recognized credential.

SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison (Liaison): The institutional representative appointed by the president who is charged with ensuring UTSA’s compliance with accreditation requirements.  The Liaison also guides the development of substantive change materials and submits those materials to the SACSCOC.  

Substantive change: Defined by the SACSCOC as a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. There are two types of substantive changes, institutional level and academic-related substantive changes.  (See definitions for Institutional Level Change and Academic-Related Change.)

Teach-out agreement: A written agreement between institutions that provides for the equitable treatment of students and a reasonable opportunity for students to complete their program of study if an institution or an institutional location that provides fifty percent or more of at least one program offered ceases to operate before all enrolled students have completed their program of study. Such a teach-out agreement requires SACSCOC approval in advance of implementation.

Teach-out plan: A written plan developed by an institution for students to complete their programs of study because the institution 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 to students, and covers all enrolled students regardless of their progress to completion. Teach-out plans must be approved by the SACSCOC in advance of implementation.

Title IV Entity: An entity that is certified to participate in U.S. Department of Education title IV programs OR is an administrative organization or unit that administers or coordinates academic programs across multiple educational institutions or providers, does not provide or is not involved in aspects of educational instruction, and all educational institutions or providers participating in the administrative organization are certified to participate in U.S. Department of Education title IV programs.


VIII. RESPONSIBILITIES


Institutional Level (Non-Academic or Administrative-Related) Substantive Changes

Deadlines: Institutional level substantive change deadlines vary depending on the type of change.  Work with the SACSCOC Liaison for UTSA to ensure timely submission of material.  It takes a minimum of six months for submissions to be processed by the SACSCOC. 

President (or his/her designated representative):

  1. Be aware of the substantive change policy and recognize potential institutional level substantive changes;
  2. Inform the Liaison of any proposed institutional level substantive change in the form of a draft notification letter with ample time for the Liaison to provide the information to the SACSCOC for approval in advance of the proposed implementation date;
  3. Obtain University, UT System and THECB approval before submission to the SACSCOC for approval (if the change is not initiated by UT System);
  4. Provide the Liaison the necessary information and documentation required by the SACSCOC substantive change policy (upon receipt of required approvals at university and state levels); and
  5. Ensure the change is not implemented until SACSCOC approval is obtained. 

Academic Related Substantive Changes (College/Department/Program Level)

There are two stages to an academic-related change at UTSA: the development stage and the approval stage. See Proposals for Academic Program Changes for information on the stages of this process, procedures, and the approvals needed for this type of change. If the change is determined to be substantive for SACSCOC purposes, the college dean and the appropriate department will work with the SACSCOC Liaison to request SACSCOC approval.  In conjunction with SACSCOC approval, a proposal that is substantive must also receive institutional, UT System and THECB approval.

Deadlines: The SACSCOC must receive most academic-related substantive change material from the institution by January 1st for a change desired to be implemented between July 1st and December 31st of the same year, and by July 1st for a change desired to be implemented between January 1st and June 30th of the following year.  Work with the SACSCOC Liaison for UTSA to ensure timely submission of material.  It takes a minimum of six months for submissions to be processed by the SACSCOC. 

College Dean

  1. Be aware of the substantive change policy and recognize potential academic-related substantive changes;
  2. Monitor academic-related substantive change proposals within the college;
  3. Ensure that the proposal follows the process, procedures and approvals outlined in Proposals for Academic Program Changes;
  4. Work with the appropriate department to provide the materials needed for University, UT System, THECB, and SACSCOC approvals;
  5. Ensure that any advertisement of the proposed change includes the language that it is “pending SACSCOC approval”; and
  6. Ensure the change is not implemented until SACSCOC approval is obtained.

Senior Vice Provost of Academic Affairs/Dean and Vice Provost of Graduate School:

  1. Be aware of the substantive change policy and recognize potential academic-related substantive changes;
  2. Provide oversight of all substantive change proposals related to academic degree programs, certificates and courses with a college at the undergraduate/graduate level;
  3. Consult with and notify the Liaison of all substantive change proposals that are in process;
  4. Communicate each proposed substantive change related to their respective degree programs, certificates and courses to the Faculty Senate/Graduate Council;
  5. Upon recommendation from the Faculty Senate/Graduate Council to approve the change, oversee the approval process to include approval from the Provost, President, and THECB through UT System;
  6. Ensure that any advertisement of the proposed change includes the language that it is “pending SACSCOC approval”; and
  7. Ensure the change is not implemented until SACSCOC approval is obtained.  

Academic Affairs

  1. Be aware of the substantive change policy and recognize potential academic-related substantive changes;
  2. Consult with college deans and provide feedback on the development of possible substantive change proposals related to academic-related substantive changes;
  3. Work with the Vice Provost for Academic Finance and Administration and the Senior Vice President for Business Affairs (as applicable) to identify sources of funding;
  4. Provide Academic Affairs approval and route to the President;
  5. After President’s approval, send the substantive change proposal to the THECB through UT System;
  6. Notify the Liaison that the proposal has been submitted to the THECB through UT System for approval;
  7. Communicate approval by the THECB to the University;
  8. Ensure that any advertisement of the proposed change includes the language that it is “pending SACSCOC approval”; and
  9. Ensure the change is not implemented until SACSCOC approval is obtained.  

President (or his/her disgnated representative)

  1. Be aware of the substantive change policy and recognize potential academic-related substantive changes;
  2. Work with the Academic Affairs to monitor all substantive change proposals related to academic degree programs, certificates and courses; and
  3. After Provost approval, provide executive level approval for the University.

Duties of the SACSCOC Liason for all substantive changes

  1. Assist the University in complying with SACSCOC policy and procedures on substantive change and reporting substantive changes to the SACSCOC;
  2. Maintain information on SACSCOC substantive changes submitted by the University to the SACSCOC;
  3. Oversee the process of preparing appropriate notification of the substantive change and  materials needed for approval according to SACSCOC requirements;
  4. Provide the substantive change materials to the SACSCOC by their review deadlines; 
  5. Coordinate with SACSCOC and the appropriate University representative concerning needed actions and follow up activities;
  6. Inform the appropriate University personnel when SACSCOC approval is obtained; and
  7. Make recommendations for updating this policy as SACSCOC policies and principles change.

IX. PROCEDURES


Substantive changes require either notification, approval, or notification and approval by the SACSCOC.  The SACSCOC charges a $500 fee to review a substantive change requiring a prospectus review and approval. For UTSA’s specific procedures related to substantive change, see Substantive Change or contact the Office of Continuous Improvement and Accreditation.  


X. SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR INITIAL IMPLEMENTATION


None


XI. FORMS AND TOOLS/ONLINE PROCESSES


UTSA’s Substantive Change webpage includes guidelines, forms and procedures for obtaining SACSCOC approval for substantive changes.


XII. APPENDIX


None


XIII. Dates Approved/Amended


03-30-2021
03-11-2021
02-26-2021
10-25-2018
03-17-2017