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What are L&S Policies Related to Holding Classes Off-Campus?
The following section outlines several policies related to holding instructional activities, including classes or programs, off-campus.
Guidelines and PolicyWhen the decision is made to move instructional activities off-campus, instructors must address several issues they don't usually need to think about. In considering these issues, they should be guided by the University Academic Planning Council Guidelines for Holding Classes and Related Educational Activities Off Campus, and the Office of Risk Management white paper on "Risk Management Implications of Off-Campus Classes." These documents are intended to ensure that instructors are aware of such topics as the site's accessibility to disabled students, the obligation to provide for student transportation to/from the site, UW's food and catering policies (including rules prohibiting serving alcohol to students), insurance for damage or injury to any participants, and worker's compensation protection for instructors if they are injured. Not all of these matters apply to all off-campus learning activities - but where they do apply, it is best to plan ahead.
What is "Off-Campus?"The UW-Madison campus encompasses more than 933 acres of land on the Main Campus, and more than 10,600 acres when the Arboretum, Research Stations throughout the state, and various university-owned properties are included. In general, requests to offer courses/programs off-campus (not to include study-abroad or courses offered entirely via distance education) involve plans to convene the class regularly in locations that are not university-owned or leased. However, even when convening class "on-campus" at a site that is distant from Main Campus,some of the considerations below (e.g., accessibility, transportation) may apply.
Ad Hoc Off-Campus Learning ActivitiesMany different types of learning activities occur off campus, including (but not limited to) such activities as field trips,performances by ensemble groups,service learning, or data collection at a research site. Such activities are held off campus when there is clear educational benefit in doing so, and occasional excursions off campus do not require prior approval.
That said, if participation in a field trip or other off-campus activity is a required part of a course, that requirement must be clearly stated in the Schedule of Courses and on the course syllabus so students are fully informed of the additional demands on their time. As always, instructors should be mindful when scheduling such activities - religious holidays and observances, campus events, etc, may impinge on students' ability to participate in certain activities.
State statutes govern whether or not departments may levy additional course fees to cover some costs associated with for-credit off-campus learning activities (e.g., to cover travel, admission, personal costs of food or lodging). Information about such fees must also be presented to students at the time of enrollment. (See What is the L&S Policy on Special Fees for Courses? for more information about Special Course fees for procedures about obtaining approval to levy special course fees.)
Off-Campus Academic Activities: Course Locations and Program SitesIn some cases, the faculty may determine that there is a significant educational benefit to providing a substantial amount of instruction off-campus, to the extent that a whole course is
located off-campus, or where more than half of the credit required for
an academic program is delivered from an off-campus program site. (Please note that these considerations do not include "distance education" courses.)
- Course location: site at which UW-Madison for-credit courses are offered and taught by UW-Madison faculty or staff.
- Program site: site at which 50% or more of a UW-Madison degree program is offered at an off-campus location.
The University Academic Planning Council distinguishes between off-campus course locations and program sites and the learning opportunities discussed in the previous section. Prior approval for both course locations and program sites is required.
For approval of off-campus course locations, please contact Associate Dean for Academic Planning, Elaine Klein (Elaine.Klein <at> wisc.edu, or 265-8484). Requests must include a brief statement about the educational benefit to holding the course off-campus, and a summary of responses to the issues noted in the UAPC policy (which may include consultation with the Risk Management Office). These requests should be submitted in writing not less than two weeks before the final call for the schedule of courses in which the off-campus session will be held.
Additional approvals are required for off-campus "program sites", and necessarily require a long timeline for approval. In these cases, the off campus nature of the program may require consultation with the Risk Management Office and Legal Services prior to consideration by campus governance bodies. These requests must be approved by the L&S Academic Planning Council and the University Academic Planning Council, and may also require approval by the Higher Learning Commission, which is responsible for UW-Madison's institutional accreditation. Such requests must be submitted and approved prior to the first off-campus course offering. Please refer to the information at https://www.apir.wisc.edu/uapc/UAPC_OffCampus_Sept2008.pdf and consult Associate Dean Klein about the proposal and governance approval process.
Finally, as with other off-campus instructional activities, students must be notified at the time of registration that instruction will be held off-campus, so they may plan ahead. This is best done in the Schedule of Courses, well in advance of any off-campus class meetings.