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Substantive Change Policy

Policy Information

Issuing Office

Office of the Provost

Affected Parties

Academic and administrative officers who can initiate, review, or approve changes in the University’s programs or activities that may be considered a substantive change according to SACSCOC policy.

Policy Language

Liberty University, as a member institution, is required to notify the Southern Association of the Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) of changes in accordance with the SACSCOC published substantive change policy and, when required, to seek approval prior to the initiation of the changes in a timely fashion.


Under federal regulations, substantive change includes the following:

Academic

The addition of courses or programs that represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated
The addition of courses or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in the institution’s current accreditation or reaffirmation.
A change from clock hours to credit hours
A substantial increase in the number of clock or credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program
Closing a program, off-campus site, branch campus or institution
Entering into a collaborative academic arrangement that includes only the initiation of a dual or joint academic program with another institution

Administrative

Any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution
Any change in legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution
The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50% of an educational program.
The establishment of a branch campus
Acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution
Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution
Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs
It is the responsibility of Liberty University to follow SACSCOC procedures and inform SACSCOC of substantive changes.

Policy Rationale

Ensure continuing compliance with the policies of the Commission on Colleges

Definition of Glossary Terms

Substantive Change: A federal term for “a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.”

Procedural Information

Procedures


Reporting the Various Types of Substantive Change

Types of Change

Procedure or

Policy

Prior Notification Required

Prior Approval Required

Documentation and

Time Frame for Contacting SACSCOC

Initiating coursework or programs at a different level than currently approved

Procedure 1

No

Yes

Due dates:

March 15 (for June review) September 1 (for December review)

Initiating off-campus sites where student 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, and certificate programs that are not at employer’s request and not on short notice)

Procedure 1

No

Yes

Cover Sheet


Due dates:


January 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation


July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation

Expanding at current degree level (significant departure from current programs).

Expanding program offerings at previously approved off- campus sites by adding programs that ARE significantly different from current programs at the site AND at the institution

Initiating degree completion programs

Initiating a branch campus

Initiating distance learning by offering 50% or more of the first program for the first time

Relocating a main or branch campus

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 the SACSCOC accredited institution

Initiating dual or joint degrees involving program expansion (significant departure) or initiating a new site where student can obtain 50% or more credits toward a program

See SACSCOC

policy “Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards

No

Yes

Cover Sheet Prospectus


Due dates:

January 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation

July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation


Copy of signed agreement, contact information for each institution, and additional details on non-SACSCOC institution(s) involved. See Policy

Initiating dual or joint degree with at least one institution not accredited by SACSCOC

See SACSCOC

Policy “Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards

At least 6 months prior to implementation

Yes

Acceptance of notification, copy of signed agreement, contact information for each institution, and additional details on non-SACSCOC institution(s). See Policy.

Initiating a direct assessment competency-based program

See SACSCOC

Policy “Direct Assessment

Competency- Based Educational Programs

Yes –

Screening Form

Yes

Submit “Screening Form” with letter of notification. If Prospectus is required,

Due dates:

March 15 (for June review)

September 1 (for December review

Initiating a merger/consolidation with another institution

See SACSCOC

Policy: “Mergers, Consolidations, Change of Ownership, Acquisitions, and Change of Governance, Control, Form, or Legal Status

Yes:


December 15

(for June review);


June 1

(for December

review)

Yes

Cover Sheet

Institutional Summary Form

Prospectus

(See Appendix in SACSCOC Policy: “Mergers, Consolidations, Change of Ownership, Acquisitions, and Change of Governance, Control, Form, or Legal Status“)


Due dates:

March 15 (for June review);

September 1 (for December review)

Changing governance, ownership, control, or legal status of an institution

Acquiring any program or site from another institution

Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out for students from another institution that is closing

Initiating a certificate program at a new off- campus site at employer’s request and on short notice (previously approved program)

Procedure 1

No

Yes

Cover Sheet


Modified prospectus


Contact Commission Staff.

Initiating a certificate program that is a significant departure from previously approved programs at employer’s request and on short notice

Adding a site under a U.S. military contract for a previously approved program

Altering significantly the length of a program

Altering significantly the educational mission of the institution

Changing from clock hours to credit hours

Procedure 1

No

Yes

Justify reasons for change, indicate calculation of equivalency, and other pertinent information

Moving an off-campus instructional site (serving the same geographic area)

Procedure 2

Yes

No

Letter of notification with old address, new address, and implementation date

Initiating dual or joint degrees with other SACSCOC accredited institution(s)

See SACSCOC

Policy “Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards”

At least 6 months prior to implementation

No

Acceptance of notification,

copy of signed agreement and

contact information for each institution.

See Policy.

Initiating programs or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium

Procedure 2

Yes

No

Letter of notification and copy of signed agreement

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 the SACSCOC accredited institution

Initiating off-campus sites where student 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, and certificate programs that are not at employer’s request and not on short notice)

Procedure 2

Yes

No

Letter of notification Including street address and implementation date

Initiating distance learning by offering 25-49 of the first program for the first time

Closing a program, approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution where the institution plans to teach out its own students

Procedure 3

Yes

Yes

Description of teach-out plan included with letter of notification

Closing a program, approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution where the institution plans contracts with another institution(s) to teach-out students (Teach- out Agreement)

Procedure 3

Yes

Yes

Description of teach-out plan,

copy of signed teach-out agreement(s)

detailing terms included with notification

Initiating off-campus sites where student 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, and certificate programs that are not at employer’s request and not on short notice)

Procedure 2

Yes

No

Letter of notification

Including street address and

implementation date

Initiating distance learning by offering 25-49 of the first program for the first time

Closing a program, approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution where the institution plans to teach out its own students

Procedure 3

Yes

Yes

Description of teach-out plan

included with letter of notification

Closing a program, approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution where the institution plans contracts with another institution(s) to teach-out students (Teach- out Agreement)

Procedure 3

Yes

Yes

Description of teach-out plan,

copy of signed teach-out agreement(s)

detailing terms included with notification



Sanctions

Failure to follow SACSCOC procedures for notification and approval of substantive changes can result in serious consequences that include suspending the activity until SACSCOC approval is received, requiring the University to pay back financial aid dispersed to students, placing Liberty on sanction, or removing the University’s accreditation entirely.

If an academic or administrative officer initiates a substantive change without following the procedures outlined in this policy, the President or Provost may direct the immediate termination of that change. If the change involves an academic program, primary consideration will be given to the educational welfare of the students affected. In cases where the change is within an administrative area, the same sanction applies.

Exceptions

None


Reporting the Various Types of Substantive Change

Types of Change

Procedure or

Policy

Initiating coursework or programs at a different level than currently approved

Procedure 1

No

Yes

Due dates:

March 15 (for June review) September 1 (for December review)

Initiating off-campus sites where student 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, and certificate programs that are not at employer’s request and not on short notice)

Procedure 1

No

Yes

Cover Sheet


Due dates:


January 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation


July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation

Expanding at current degree level (significant departure from current programs).

Expanding program offerings at previously approved off- campus sites by adding programs that ARE significantly different from current programs at the site AND at the institution

Initiating degree completion programs

Initiating a branch campus

Initiating distance learning by offering 50% or more of the first program for the first time

Relocating a main or branch campus

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 the SACSCOC accredited institution

Initiating dual or joint degrees involving program expansion (significant departure) or initiating a new site where student can obtain 50% or more credits toward a program

See SACSCOC

policy “Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards

No

Yes

Cover Sheet Prospectus


Due dates:

January 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation

July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation


Copy of signed agreement, contact information for each institution, and additional details on non-SACSCOC institution(s) involved. See Policy

Initiating dual or joint degree with at least one institution not accredited by SACSCOC

See SACSCOC

Policy “Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards

At least 6 months prior to implementation

Yes

Acceptance of notification, copy of signed agreement, contact information for each institution, and additional details on non-SACSCOC institution(s). See Policy.

Initiating a direct assessment competency-based program

See SACSCOC

Policy “Direct Assessment

Competency- Based Educational Programs

Yes –

Screening Form

Yes

Submit “Screening Form” with letter of notification. If Prospectus is required,

Due dates:

March 15 (for June review)

September 1 (for December review

Initiating a merger/consolidation with another institution

See SACSCOC

Policy: “Mergers, Consolidations, Change of Ownership, Acquisitions, and Change of Governance, Control, Form, or Legal Status

Yes:


December 15

(for June review);


June 1

(for December

review)

Yes

Cover Sheet

Institutional Summary Form

Prospectus

(See Appendix in SACSCOC Policy: “Mergers, Consolidations, Change of Ownership, Acquisitions, and Change of Governance, Control, Form, or Legal Status“)


Due dates:

March 15 (for June review);

September 1 (for December review)

Changing governance, ownership, control, or legal status of an institution

Acquiring any program or site from another institution

Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out for students from another institution that is closing

Initiating a certificate program at a new off- campus site at employer’s request and on short notice (previously approved program)

Procedure 1

No

Yes

Cover Sheet


Modified prospectus


Contact Commission Staff.

Initiating a certificate program that is a significant departure from previously approved programs at employer’s request and on short notice

Adding a site under a U.S. military contract for a previously approved program

Altering significantly the length of a program

Altering significantly the educational mission of the institution

Changing from clock hours to credit hours

Procedure 1

No

Yes

Justify reasons for change, indicate calculation of equivalency, and other pertinent information

Moving an off-campus instructional site (serving the same geographic area)

Procedure 2

Yes

No

Letter of notification with old address, new address, and implementation date

Initiating dual or joint degrees with other SACSCOC accredited institution(s)

See SACSCOC

Policy “Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards”

At least 6 months prior to implementation

No

Acceptance of notification,

copy of signed agreement and

contact information for each institution.

See Policy.

Initiating programs or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium

Procedure 2

Yes

No

Letter of notification and copy of signed agreement

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 the SACSCOC accredited institution

Initiating off-campus sites where student 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, and certificate programs that are not at employer’s request and not on short notice)

Procedure 2

Yes

No

Letter of notification Including street address and implementation date

Initiating distance learning by offering 25-49 of the first program for the first time

Closing a program, approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution where the institution plans to teach out its own students

Procedure 3

Yes

Yes

Description of teach-out plan included with letter of notification

Closing a program, approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution where the institution plans contracts with another institution(s) to teach-out students (Teach- out Agreement)

Procedure 3

Yes

Yes

Description of teach-out plan,

copy of signed teach-out agreement(s)

detailing terms included with notification

Initiating off-campus sites where student 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, and certificate programs that are not at employer’s request and not on short notice)

Procedure 2

Yes

No

Letter of notification

Including street address and

implementation date

Initiating distance learning by offering 25-49 of the first program for the first time

Closing a program, approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution where the institution plans to teach out its own students

Procedure 3

Yes

Yes

Description of teach-out plan

included with letter of notification

Closing a program, approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution where the institution plans contracts with another institution(s) to teach-out students (Teach- out Agreement)

Procedure 3

Yes

Yes

Description of teach-out plan,

copy of signed teach-out agreement(s)

detailing terms included with notification


The Provost/SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison will conduct an annual briefing on substantive change policy and procedures for the appropriate institutional leadership.