Protocol established November 2016
When UW-Madison enters into a contractual arrangement for the delivery of instruction that results in the awarding of UW-Madison credit, such arrangements require academic approval by the faculty of the contracting department or unit, the dean of the school/college, and the University Academic Planning Council.
After these campus approvals, contractual arrangements for credit instruction must be approved by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) under the policies for substantive institutional change.
The academic approval, including HLC approval, must be complete before Procurement Services signs the contract.
For information about this requirement contact:
Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Institutional Research
HLC Accreditation Liaison
HLC Policy INST.F.20.040 requires that an accredited institution obtain HLC approval if the institution plans to initiate a contractual arrangement in which the institution outsources some portion of its academic degree/major programs offered for academic credit (including instruction, oversight of the curriculum, assurance of the consistency in the level and quality of instruction and in expectations of student performance and/or the establishment of the academic qualifications for instructional personnel) to:
The following types of contractual arrangement are not included in this requirement:
HLC Rationale, quoted from HLC materials: When an institution outsources a portion of an academic program particularly to an entity not accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, a Commission priority is to ensure the institution has not delegated its fundamental responsibilities in a way that diminishes its capacity to ensure and maintain educational quality. Institutions should consider carefully whether a contract represents an "outsourcing" of its educational activities and whether Commission approval is required. Commission expectations as expressed in the Assumed Practices, the Guiding Values, and the Criteria for Accreditation are congruent with an evaluation of contractual arrangements where they touch upon teaching and learning. The Commission's Guiding Values state: "The responsibility for assuring the quality of an institution rests first with the institution itself. Institutional accreditation assesses the capacity of an institution to assure its own quality and expects it to produce evidence that it does so." Contractual arrangements remain subject to Commission review during comprehensive evaluations, or at other times if they become a matter of concern, as part of the Commission's efforts to ensure the institutions' ongoing compliance with the Assumed Practices and the Criteria for Accreditation. In addition, the U.S. Department's expectations of institutions with regard to contractual arrangements can include significant implications for Title IV funding.
III. Information to Include in the Screening Proposal
IV. Approval Process
Because these types of contractual arrangements require reporting to and possibly approval by the HLC, UW-Madison academic approvals are required. These approvals demonstrate that the contractual arrangement has oversight by the program faculty, the dean, and the faculty governance process.
Step 1. The proposed contractual arrangement is first approved by the program faculty.
Step 2. The proposal is approved by the dean, and may be approved as well by the school/college academic planning council.
Step 3. The dean’s office forwards the proposal to the Office of the Provost with a supporting cover memo from the dean to the provost, copy to the vice provost for academic planning and institutional research.
Step 4. The proposal will be subject to faculty approval through the University Academic Planning Council.
Step 5. After campus approval, information about the contractual arrangement for instruction will be submitted to HLC by the University’s HLC Liaison.
HLC’s first step is a screening step. The response from the Commission based on the screening information will determine if a full proposal is required. A full proposal will follow the form specified by the HLC and will also be subject to dean approval and faculty/UAPC approval before submission to HLC.
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