Senate Bill No. 375
(By Senators Wells, Plymale, Chafin and Stollings)
[Introduced February 1, 2011; referred to the Committee on Education.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §18B-4-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to authority of institutions of higher education to confer degrees; applicability of provisions; minimum standards; requiring collection and dissemination of certain information; authorizing certain reviews and audits; and providing for revocation of degree-granting authority under certain conditions.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §18B-4-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 4. GENERAL ADMINISTRATION.
§18B-4-7. Accreditation of institutions of higher education; standards for degrees.
(a) The council shall make rules for the accreditation of community and technical colleges in this state and shall determine the minimum standards for conferring degrees. The commission shall make rules for the accreditation of colleges and universities in this state except the governing boards of Marshall University and West Virginia University shall make rules for the state institutions of higher education known as Marshall University and West Virginia University, and shall determine the minimum standards for conferring degrees. The governing boards of Marshall University and West Virginia University shall promulgate rules pursuant to the provisions of section six, article one of this chapter for the accreditation of the state institutions of higher education known as Marshall University and West Virginia University.
(b) An institution of higher education may not confer any a degree on any basis of work or merit below the minimum standards prescribed by the council or commission. or the governing boards. Nothing in this section infringes upon the rights, including rights to award degrees, granted to any institution by charter given according to law, or by actions of the Council or Commission or their predecessors, prior to the effective date of this section. (c) With the approval of the commission and subject to subsections (e), (f) and (g) of this section, governing boards of institutions which currently offer substantial undergraduate course offerings and a master's degree in a discipline are authorized to grant baccalaureate degrees in that discipline.
(d) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a charter or other instrument containing the right to confer degrees of higher education status may not be granted by the State of West Virginia to any an institution, association or organization within the state, nor may any such a degree be awarded, until the condition of conferring the degree first has first been approved in writing by the council or commission, or appropriate governing board as appropriate.
(e) To retain the authority to confer degrees pursuant to this section, each institution shall provide annually to the commission or council, as requested, all information the commission or council considers necessary to assess the performance of the institution and to determine whether the institution continues to meet the minimum standards for conferring degrees. This information includes, but is not limited to, the following data:
(1) All information current and future federal or state laws and regulations require the institution to report to the public, to students, to employees or to federal or state agencies;
(2) Other consumer information the commission or council considers necessary, including, but not limited to, graduation and retention rates, transfers, post-graduation placements, loan defaults and numbers and types of student complaints;
(3) A detailed explanation of financial operations including, but not limited to, policies, formulas and procedures related to calculation, payment and refund for all tuition and fees; and
(4) An assessment of the adequacy of the institution’s curriculum, personnel, facilities, materials and equipment to meet the minimum standards for conferring degrees.
(f) The commission and council may conduct on-site reviews to evaluate an institution’s academic standards, may conduct financial audits, or may require the institution to perform these audits and provide detailed data to the commission or council.
(g) The commission or council shall revoke an institution’s authority to confer degrees when the governing body and/or chief executive officer of the institution has failed to maintain the minimum standards for conferring degrees or has refused or willfully failed to provide information to the commission or council pursuant to this subsection in a manner and within a reasonable time frame as established by the commission or council, as appropriate.
(NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to authorize the Policy Commission and the Council to collect and disseminate information they consider necessary to aid consumers in assessing the performance of institutions of higher education in the state and to require the Policy Commission or Council to revoke an institution’s authority to confer degrees under certain conditions.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.)