OLR Bill Analysis

SB 24

AN ACT CONCERNING PROGRAM APPROVAL FOR INDEPENDENT INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION.

SUMMARY:

This bill exempts certain nonprofit independent higher education institutions from the Office of Higher Education's (OHE) approval process for new or revised academic programs. It exempts such institutions that (1) are eligible to participate in the Federal Family Education Loan program and (2) have been located in Connecticut and accredited as degree-granting institutions for at least 10 years by a regional accrediting association recognized by the U.S. education secretary. (In practice, certain institutions are already exempt from this process (see BACKGROUND).) The bill specifies that teacher education programs remain subject to the State Board of Education's regulatory authority.

Institutions that are exempt under the bill must annually file with OHE a list and brief description of any new programs introduced and existing programs discontinued in the preceding academic year. The bill does not establish a deadline for filing this list.

By law, non-exempt, independent higher education institutions seeking to offer a new academic program must receive approval from OHE. A public higher education institution must have its new academic programs approved by the institution's governing board (i.e., the UConn Board of Trustees or the Board of Regents for Higher Education).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016

BACKGROUND

Institutions Currently Exempt

In practice, Connecticut College, Trinity College, Wesleyan University, and Yale University are already exempt from OHE's program approval authority. These institutions, classified by OHE as national independents, are longstanding institutions that predate the state's regulation of postsecondary academic programs. Additionally, the institutions' charters give the schools the power to decide which degrees to confer; there are no provisions that require state approval for additional degrees.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

10

Nay

4

(02/25/2016)