PA 17-191—sHB 7119

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE AUTHORITY OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF HIGHER EDUCATION RELATING TO TEACH-OUT PLANS AND ON-SITE REVIEW OF ACADEMIC PROGRAMS

SUMMARY: This act expands the Office of Higher Education (OHE) executive director's authority over higher educational institutions that (1) are in danger of closing or (2) apply to OHE for program modifications, nonsubstantive changes, licensure, or accreditation in fields requiring a license to practice in Connecticut.

Existing law allows OHE's executive director to take action to assist students attending a private occupational school that closes without meeting all the requirements in state law, including failing to provide evidence of student refunds and course completion. Among the actions the director may take is the facilitation of a “teach-out,” defined as the completion of a course or program of study in which a student was enrolled (CGS 10a-22m(a) & (d)). The purpose of a teach-out is to ensure that current students can complete their programs despite the closure.

The act allows the OHE executive director to require any institution, not just a private occupational school, to facilitate a teach-out if (1) it is not regionally accredited, (2) it is exhibiting financial and administrative signs that it is in danger of closing, and (3) the OHE executive director previously discussed a teach-out with the institution.

Additionally, the act expands the OHE executive director's authority over applications from institutions relating to fields requiring licensure to practice in Connecticut. By law, certain private higher education institutions must submit applications to OHE for approval of program modifications; nonsubstantive changes (i.e., new certificate programs, baccalaureate minors, or undergraduate or graduate options); licensure; and accreditation (see BACKGROUND). The act allows the executive director or his designee to require of any program application for a field with practitioners who must be licensed to practice in Connecticut (1) evidence that the program meets state or federal licensing requirements and (2) a focused or onsite review. Under prior law, the executive director could only require a focused or onsite review for program applications in health-related fields that require a license to practice in Connecticut.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017

BACKGROUND

Application Exemption

The law exempts, until July 1, 2018, certain nonprofit independent higher education institutions from OHE's approval process for new programs of higher learning and program modifications. To be exempt, institutions must meet the following criteria:

1. be eligible to participate in the Federal Family Education Loan program;

2. not have a financial responsibility score of less than 1.5, as determined by the U.S. Department of Education, for the most recent fiscal year for which the necessary data is available; and

3. have been located in Connecticut and accredited as a degree-granting institution in good standing for at least 10 years by a regional accrediting association recognized by the U.S. education secretary (CGS 10a-34(l)).