PA 16-44—HB 5072

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING HIGHER EDUCATION CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

SUMMARY: This act requires the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR) and the Office of Higher Education (OHE) to define and monitor sub-baccalaureate certificate programs offered by higher education institutions and private occupational schools.

The act also requires each in-state institution and school to annually submit data to OHE from the previous academic year on its for-credit and noncredit sub-baccalaureate programs and the types of certificates these programs offer. OHE must develop a uniform format for data submissions, and the act prescribes a detailed list of data that institutions and schools must submit.

Annually, beginning January 1, 2020, OHE must compile the collected data in order to compare various types of sub-baccalaureate programs to determine similarities to other programs, student interest in each program and similar programs, and the need for each program. By July 1, 2020, and annually thereafter, OHE must post the compiled data on its website so that students and prospective students can make informed decisions about enrollment in and choice of sub-baccalaureate certificate programs.

The act also requires the following:

1. OHE to develop and post on its website one-page fact sheets for each sub-baccalaureate certificate program offered by Connecticut institutions and schools,

2. the institutions and schools to post these fact sheets on their own websites,

3. BOR to establish a working group to review all noncredit sub-baccalaureate certificate programs offered by each regional community-technical college (CTC) to develop a uniform naming convention for them, and

4. OHE to annually review data samples submitted by institutions and schools.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016

1 — PRIVATE OCCUPATIONAL SCHOOLS

Under existing law, a private occupational school is a person, board, association, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or other entity offering instruction in any trade or industrial, commercial, service, professional, or other occupation for a remuneration, consideration, reward, or promise. It does not include (1) publicly supervised and controlled instruction, (2) employee or member training offered by a firm or organization, or (3) instruction from a school authorized by the legislature to confer degrees (CGS 10a-22a).

The act specifies that private occupational schools include hospital-based occupational schools or any program, school, or entity offering postsecondary instruction in barbering or hairdressing.

2-3 — CERTIFICATE DEFINITIONS

The act requires BOR, in collaboration with OHE, to create consistency among the various certificate programs by formulating written definitions for all sub-baccalaureate certificates earned on a for-credit or noncredit basis and awarded by Connecticut higher education institutions and private occupational schools. BOR must report the completed definitions to the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee by January 1, 2017.

4 — CERTIFICATE PROGRAM DATA COLLECTION

Data Submitted by Institutions to OHE

The act requires that institutions' and schools' data submissions to OHE about sub-baccalaureate certificate programs include the following information:

1. the program's name and subject matter area;

2. total program enrollment;

3. any entry-level requirements for program enrollment;

4. the number and type of certificates the program awarded;

5. tuition and fees charged for completing the program within the prescribed timeframe;

6. the estimated range of costs for purchasing books and supplies, unless the program's tuition or fees include such costs;

7. to the extent it has been reported to the institution's or school's financial aid office, median debt students incur when completing the program, reported separately by Title IV loans and other education debt, including private and institutional loans;

8. basic demographic information, to the extent available, on students enrolled in the program, including their gender, age, race, and ethnicity;

9. percentage of students in each student cohort (i. e. , group of students enrolled at the same period of time in the same certificate program) who completed such a program within the prescribed timeframe;

10. whether there is a clear pathway from successful program completion to enrollment in a related associate degree program;

11. whether the program leads to a credential recognized by the industry for which the program prepares a student;

12. whether a student may combine the certificate awarded with another sub-baccalaureate certificate awarded in order to achieve a heightened qualification level for a particular trade or occupation;

13. the average length of time to complete the program;

14. employment rates, to the extent available, for students who have completed the program, six months after program completion;

15. student cohort pass rate, to the extent available, for national certification programs; and

16. student cohort licensure rate, to the extent available, for positions requiring the certificate and state licensure.

Institutions and schools must submit data on their (1) for-credit sub-baccalaureate programs and certificates by January 1, 2018, and annually thereafter and (2) non-credit programs and certificates by January 1, 2019, and annually thereafter.

Data Collected by OHE

The act requires OHE to collect, for each sub-baccalaureate certificate program offered by Connecticut higher education institutions or private occupational schools, the average (1) starting salary for entry-level positions requiring the certificate and (2) salary for jobs requiring the certificate. OHE must use available Labor Department statistics and collect this information about (1) for-credit programs by January 1, 2018, and annually thereafter and (2) noncredit programs by January 1, 2019 and annually thereafter.

5 — PROGRAM FACT SHEETS

The act requires OHE, by July 1, 2019, and annually thereafter, to develop and post on its website a one-page fact sheet for each sub-baccalaureate certificate program offered by Connecticut higher education institutions and private occupational schools. The fact sheet must contain data that the act requires such institutions and schools to submit to OHE (see above), including tuition, fees, costs of books and supplies, graduation rates, and, to the extent available, job placement rates and average student debt.

Additionally, the act requires the institutions and schools to make these fact sheets available to current and prospective students by (1) posting them on their own websites within seven days of OHE's online posting and (2) other methods of their choosing.

6 — BOR WORKING GROUP

The act requires BOR, under the direction of its chief academic officer, to establish a working group of CTC continuing education deans or their designees to review all noncredit sub-baccalaureate certificate programs that CTCs offer for the purpose of designing a uniform naming convention for these programs. The working group must design this convention by January 1, 2019 to help students distinguish between noncredit certificate programs with similar yet varied requirements in the same field of study. The naming convention must uniformly designate varying programs by indicating different, enhanced, or more demanding requirements.

Additionally, by February 1, 2019, and periodically thereafter at BOR's request, the working group must review tuition for the uniformly named noncredit sub-baccalaureate certificate programs leading to the same qualifications. The review must determine if tuition and fee variations between the programs are reasonable.

BOR's president must report to the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee by March 1, 2019 on the uniform naming convention and tuition review determination.

7 — ANNUAL REVIEW PROGRAM

The act requires OHE to develop, by July 1, 2019, an annual review program for at least a sample of the student data submitted for each for-credit and noncredit sub-baccalaureate certificate program offered by higher education institutions and private occupational schools. The act does not specify the sample size that should be used. OHE must not disclose any personally identifiable student information it may obtain from this review.

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