Substantive Change Policy


North Florida College's Substantive Change Policy has been created to ensure all substantive changes are reported correctly and timely to its accrediting bodies. These procedures are designed to serve as a comprehensive guide to person(s) modifying/adding courses, programs, and degrees at North Florida College.

Substantive change is defined by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College (SACSCOC) as “a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution”. According to SACSCOC, substantive change includes:

  • 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 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

Some questions to consider as you analyze whether changes constitute a significant departure from what NFC currently offers include the following:

1. What other related programs are already in place?

2. Does the new program require . . .

  • additional faculty?
  • new courses?
  • additional library or other learning resources?
  • new equipment or facilities?
  • a different resource base?
For specific SACSCOC procedures to address substantive change, see the Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions Policy Statement at http://www.sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/SubstantiveChange.pdf

USE SACSCOC COVER SHEET WHEN SUBMITTING ANY SUBSTANTIVE CHANGES

Substantive Change Actions

NO ACTION

Some changes do not need to be reported to SACSCOC.

  • Initiating a certificate program at an employers request and on short notice using existing approved courses and location.
  • Initiating certificate programs using existing approved courses and location.
  • Initiating off-campus sites (including Early College High School and dual enrollment programs offered at the high school) where student can obtain 24% or less of credits toward a program.
  • Initiating distance learning by offering 24% or less of any program for the first time.
  • Expanding program offerings at previously approved off-campus sites by adding approved programs that ARE NOT significantly different from current programs at the site.
  • Expanding program offerings at previously approved off-campus sites adding programs that ARE significantly different from current programs at the site, but NOT at the institution.

NOTIFICATION ONLY

Other changes simply require that SACSCOC be notified in advance of the implementation of the change. The letter of notification should include the name of the actual change, implementation date, street address if it involves a new site, and the credential being offered.

  • Moving an off-campus instructional site (serving the same geographical area).
  • Initiating joint or dual degree programs with another SACSCOC accredited institution.
  • Initiating programs or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium.
  • 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% to 49% of credits toward a program (including Early College High School,dual enrollment programs offered at the high school, and certificate programs that are not at employer's request and not on short notice).
  • Initiating distance learning by offering 25-49% of the first program for the first time.

NOTIFICATION AND APPROVAL

Larger scale changes require written notification at least 6 months (in some cases, 12 months) in advance and approval of a prospectus, which must be submitted at least 3 months prior to the anticipated implementation date. Some of these changes have specific due dates; see chart at bottom of page.

  • Initiating coursework or programs at a different level than currently approved.
  • Initiating off-campus sites where student can obtain 50% of 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).
  • 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 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.
  • Initiating dual or joint degree programs with an institution NOT accredited by SACSCOC.
  • Initiating a direct assessment competency-based program.
  • Initiating a merger/consolidation with another institution.
  • 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 form 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).
  • Initiating a certificate program that is a significant departure from previously approved programs at employer's request and on short notice.
  • Altering significantly the length of a program.
  • Altering significantly the educational mission of the institution.
  • Changing from clock hours to credit hours.

Designated Representative

According to SACSCOC policies, “it is expected that the … designated representative of an institution will notify the Commission President of substantive changes at that institution. Every institution has an Accreditation Liaison whose charge is to ensure compliance with accreditation requirements. The Accreditation Liaison should take the time to become familiar with the Commissions policies and procedures, ensure that substantive changes are recognized and reported in a timely fashion, and consult with the institution’s COC staff member about any questions.

The Commission also notes that “certain types of substantive changes, such as adding branch campuses, level changes, mergers/consolidations, and changes in governance require a visit by a substantive change committee to determine continued compliance with the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. When a committee visit has been authorized by the President of the Commission, the institution will be asked to provide documentation of the impact of the change on selected requirements in the Principles of Accreditation.

Timelines/Deadlines

In order to comply with SACSCOC policy on substantive change, North Florida College recognizes the timeline necessary in the reporting process. The examples in the chart are the substantive changes most likely to be of consideration for North Florida College and are taken directly from the SACSCOC policies. Information on additional types of changes and required timelines can be found on the SACSCOC website or by contacting the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison of the college.

TYPE OF CHANGE

PRIOR NOTIFICATION REQUIRED

WHEN TO CONTACT SACSCOC

PRIOR APPROVAL REQUIRED

DOCUMENT

Initiating coursework or programs at different level than currently approved

No

March 15

September 1

Yes

Initiating off-campus sites where student can obtain 50% or more credits toward a programNo

January 1

July 1

Yes

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

No

January 1

July 1

Yes

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

No

January 1

July 1

Yes

Initiating a degree completion programs

No

January 1

July 1

Yes

Initiating a branch campus

No

January 1

July 1

Yes

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

No

January 1

July 1

Yes

Relocating a main or branch campus

No

January 1

July 1

Yes

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
No

January 1

July 1

Yes
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
No

January 1

July 1

Yes

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

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

Yes

At least 6 months prior to implementationYes

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

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

YesAt least 6 months prior to implementationNo

Acceptance of notification, copy of signed agreement and contact information for each institution.

Initiating a merger/consolidation with another institution

Yes

December 15

June 1

March 15

September 1

Yes


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

Yes

December 15

June 1

March 15

September 1

Yes

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Acquiring any program or site from another institution

Yes

December 15

June 1

March 15

September 1

Yes

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

Yes

December 15

June 1

March 15

September 1

Yes

Any possible Substantive Change for North Florida College should be immediately reported to the Accreditation Liaison in order to determine if the change fits the definition of a substantive change as required by SACSCOC. The Accreditation Liaison will work with SACSCOC representatives to ensure that the correct procedures are followed.

All substantive change activity will be documented in North Florida College's Accreditation Liaison office.

References:

Sightler, Ph. D. Kevin. “Recognizing and Responding to Substantive Change.” SACSCOC Substantive Change Workshop. Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee, FL. 27 March 2015. Presenter.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. (May 2016). Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions of the Commission on Colleges Policy Statement. Web. http://www.sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/SubstantiveChange.pdf