ECTC Substantive Change Policy and Procedure
The purpose of this policy and procedure is to describe the requirements Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) must follow to remain in compliance with The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Standard 14.2. which states,
"The institution has a policy and procedure to ensure that all substantive changes are reported in accordance with SACSCOC’s policy."
SACSCOC requires all member institutions to have a policy and procedure established to ensure the timely completion of substantive changes. It is the policy of Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) to be in full compliance with the Substantive Change Policy and Procedure of SACSOC.
SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation further states,
A member institution is responsible for following the substantive change policy by informing the Commission of changes in accord with the Commission’s procedures and, when required, seeking approval prior to the initiation of the change. If an institution fails to follow SACSCOC substantive change policy and procedures, it 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. In addition, the institution’s case may be referred to SACSCOC Board of Trustees for the imposition of a sanction or for removal from membership.
It is imperative that the constituents of ECTC are familiar with substantive change policy and procedures so all necessary changes are reported in a timely manner.
College Policy Statement
In order to remain in compliance and good standing with the Commission, ECTC will report in writing any actions defined as a substantive change to the SACSCOC. All programs, departments, and administrative areas of the College are governed by and required to follow this policy. The type of substantive change required determines the type of written communication and documentation that must be submitted to SACSCOC and how far in advance this communication must be sent.
The Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions policy defines substantive change as a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.
The following link provides the SACSCOC approved Substantive Change Policy and Procedures which lists all areas requiring a substantive change.
Types of Action
The scope of the substantive change will determine the written communication the accreditation liaison will send to the SACSCOC. Some changes require prior approval before implementation and may require an extensive review and approval by the SACSCOC Executive Council of the Board of Trustees while some just require notification prior to implementation and monitoring for more advanced changes.
What constitutes significant departure?
A program that is not closely related to previously approved programs at the institution or site or for the mode of delivery in question. To determine whether a new program is a “significant departure,” it is helpful to consider the following questions:
- 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?
- Will a significant number of new courses will be required?
- Will a significant number of new faculty members will be required?
- Will significant additional library/learning resources be needed?
Changes requiring APPROVAL before implementation
Approval by Executive Council of the Board BEFORE Implementation
Submission deadlines: January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year, and July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year.
- Change in Measure of Student Progress to Completion
- Competency-based Education by Course/Credit-based Approach –Institutional-level Approval
- Distance Education as a new program approval if the new program is a significant departure from the institution’s existing programs
- Institution Closure
- Institution Relocation
- Mission Change: A significant change in the established mission of an institution requires SACSCOC approval prior to implementation. A mission change fundamentally alters the character of an institution and its portfolio of academic programs or other mission-driven activities.
- Clock-Credit Hour Conversion: Changing a program’s progress to completion measure from clock hours to credit hours – or from credit hours to clock hours
- Correspondence Education: a learning process in which the institution provides instructional materials and examination, by mail or electronic transmission, to students who are separated from the instructor.
- Joint Academic Award with non-SACSCOC Institution or Entity
- New Program with 50% or more new content (significant departure)
- Program Closure” Requires a teach-out plan. Teach-out plan may begin before approval is granted.
- Program Length Change: A change in program length – for either an increase or a decrease if program credit hours increase or decrease by 25% or more AND students’ expected time to completion increases or decreases by more than one term or its equivalent
Off-campus Instructional Site / Additional Location Changes
- Initiating an off-campus (additional) site (site-based/classroom group instruction) at which student can earn at least 50% of the credits toward an educational program AND has had more than two sites approved under the extensive review process.
- Off-campus Instructional Site Relocation – Branch Campus
- Off-campus Instructional Site Closure: require an acceptable teach-out plan.
Approval by Full Board of Trustees BEFORE Implementation
Submission deadlines: March 15 for review at the Board’s biannual meeting in June of the same calendar year, and September 1 for review at the Board’s biannual meeting in December of the same calendar year.
- Acquisition: the sale, exchange, or transfer of a component of an institution’s or entity’s assets to a SACSCOC accredited institution
- Governance Change: 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.
- Level change: Initiating coursework or a program at a different level than previously approved or authorized by SACSCOC.
- Merger/Consolidation: he sale, exchange, or transfer of all assets of at least one institution or entity to a SACSCOC accredited institution.
- Ownership, Means of Control, or Legal Status Change
- Competency-based Education by Direct Assessment: A program in which 50% or more of the program may be earned through the direct assessment approach to competency-based education (CBE) requires SACSCOC approval prior to implementation.
Off-campus Instructional Site / Additional Location Changes
- Initiating an off-campus (additional) site (site-based/classroom group instruction) at which student can earn at least 50% of the credits toward an educational program AND has less than two sites approved under the extensive review process.
- Off-campus Instructional Site Relocation – Non-branch Campus
Changes Requiring Notification Only
- New Program if new program is not a significant departure from the institution’s existing programs
- Distance education if it becomes an additional method of delivery for an existing program (student can complete the program via distance education
- Competency-based Education by Direct Assessment: A program in which 25-49% of the program may be earned through the direct assessment approach to competency-based education (CBE) requires SACSCOC notification 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.
- Joint Academic Award with SACSCOC Institution: 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.
- Method of Delivery: Adding a method of instructional delivery to an existing program
- New Program with 25-49% new content (significant departure)
- Program Designed for Prior Learning: Initiating a program requiring students to possess prior learning as a condition of admission requires notification prior to implementation
- Program Re-Open: a closed program may re-open within five years of the closure date (the date the program was closed to admission). If longer than five-years, program is subject to new program notification or approval.
Off-campus Instructional Site / Additional Location Changes
- Initiating an off-campus site at which a student may earn at least 25% but less than 50% of credits toward a degree.
- Off-campus Instructional Site Name or Address Change if the location at which instruction is delivered is not changing but the address of the location is changing
- Off-campus Instructional Site Re-open: if previously approved for closure, site may be re-opened within five years of the closure date. The closure date is the date the site was closed to admission. If more than five years have elapsed, the site is subject to notification or approval as a new site.
In order to maintain compliance with Standard 14.2, ECTC’s Substantive Change Policy and Procedures, and to facilitate the flow of information regarding actions leading to a substantive change notification, institution Substantive Change will be a standing item on the schedule for ECTC’s SACSCOC Steering Committee which will meet four times a year (August, October, February, April). This team includes the President and Chief Executive Officer, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, all Division Chairs, Dual Credit Coordinator, Chief Student Affairs Officer, Chief Advancement Officer, Director of Financial Aid, Dean of Workforce Solutions, Library Director, Chief Financial and Facilities Officer, QEP Chair, Director of Distance Learning, and the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison (convener). The accreditation liaison along with the Chief Academic Officer are responsible for timely reporting of a substantive change to the SACSCOC.
It is the responsibility of the Steering Committee to remain current with SACSCOC Substantive Change Policies. In order for the Committee to understand the many different types of changes that fall within the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy, a copy of the entire policy will be distributed annually to all members in the August meeting or as the policy is updated by SACSCOC.
Procedures for Reporting Substantive Changes
All information regarding a possible substantive change must be submitted to the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison for the development of the required materials to be sent to the President of the College for review and submission to SACSCOC. Once the President approves the substantive change, the information will be forwarded to the Director of Financial Aid who forwards it to the Department of Education (as needed) to be in compliance with federal Title IV regulations.
To monitor compliance with the SACSCOC Substantive Change policy,
- A tracking file of all off-campus dual-credit sites is maintained by the Dual Credit coordinator. This file includes names and complete addresses of all off-campus dual credit sites along with the listing of courses offered, faculty teaching the courses, contact information for the Point of Contact for the dual-credit site, and the percentage of courses towards a credential available by year.
- A tracking file of off-campus sites, not related to dual credit, is maintained by the Director of Institutional Effectiveness. This file includes names and complete addresses of all off-campus sites along with the listing of courses offered, faculty teaching the courses, contact information for the Point of Contact for the site, and the percentage of courses towards a credential available by year.
- A tracking file of locations where workforce development certificates are being offered and is maintained by the Department of Workforce Solutions. This file includes names and complete addresses of all workforce sites along with the listing of courses offered, faculty teaching the courses, contact information for the Point of Contact for the site, and the percentage of courses towards a credential available by year.
The Dual Credit Coordinator, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, and Department of Workforce Solutions will inform the Accreditation Liaison each time a new course is added to a location. Working in conjunction with the Accreditation Liaison will ensure all documentation needed for substantive change, if necessary, is submitted in a timely manner.
During the Steering Committee Meetings, the ECTC Accreditation Liaison will solicit feedback concerning any substantive change, new program, or new academic area from the members of the Committee. This includes all program and curriculum changes reviewed as necessary by the local CRC.
If any information brought forth are deemed substantive according to the Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions policy, then the Accreditation liaison, in conjunction with the Chief Academic Officer will determine the type of substantive change needed and will consult with the institution’s COC staff member as needed.
If the Commission requires the institution to write a brief or complete prospectus or prepare any additional documentation, the Accreditation Liaison will work with the appropriate departments and Committee members to complete the necessary documents.
Once all pieces are completed, the Accreditation Liaison or Chief Academic Officer will prepare the necessary letters and attach all necessary documentation to be submitted to the President of the College to be signed and sent to the President of SACSCOC.
The ECTC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures will be reviewed annually by the Steering Committee or when the Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions policy statement has been updated, whichever is more frequent, and the policy will be published on the ECTC website.
Questions or clarification regarding this policy should be directed to the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison.
- Approved: President’s Cabinet, May 31, 2017
- Updated: Addition of Steering Committee Members and Flow Charts August 4, 2017
- Updated: Adjusted Standard to represent updated Principles February 2, 2018
- Updated: Adjusted meeting schedule and members September 12, 2018
- Updated: Changes to reflect SACSCOC Approved Policy November 1, 2022