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RSCC Policy GA-37-01; Substantive Change

Roane State Community College
Policy Number: GA-37-01
Subject: Substantive Change
  1. Overview
    Roane State Community College is a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), which is its regional accrediting body, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an agency whose accreditation entitles its member institutions to seek eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. The purpose of this policy is to establish institutional procedures for recognizing and approving substantive change and ensuring timely, accurate and complete notification to the SACSCOC.
  2. Compliance
    Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. The reporting and review of substantive change is required by the SACSCOC to ensure that the scope of programs offered by the institution have undergone appropriate review by the Commission. (See SACSCOC policy Substantive Change Policy and Procedures)
    1. This policy is applicable to all units, divisions, centers and campuses.
    2. The college’s Accreditation Liaison, the Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Student Success Initiatives, is the individual with overall responsibility for ensuring that this policy is implemented; however, all individuals responsible for initiating activities that may be considered within the scope of substantive change are required to be familiar and comply with this policy and Standard 14.2 of the Principles of Accreditation.
    3. Substantive changes include but are not limited to:
      1. Substantially changing the established mission or objectives of the institution.
      2. Changing legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution.
      3. Adding a program that is a significant departure from the existing programs, or method of delivery from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated.
      4. Offering courses or programs at a higher or lower level than currently authorized.
      5. Changing the way an institution measures student progress, whether in clock hours or credit hours, semesters, trimesters, or quarters; or time-based or non-time based methods or measures.
      6. Substantially increasing or decreasing the number of clock or credit hours awarded or competencies demonstrated, or an increase in the level of credential awarded for successful completion of a program.
      7. The establishment or expansion of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50 percent of an educational program.
      8. The establishment of a branch campus.
      9. Relocating an institution or an off-campus instructional site (including a branch campus).
      10. Closing an institution, a program, a method of delivery, an off-campus instructional site, a program at an off-campus instructional site.
      11. Entering into a collaborative academic arrangement.
      12. Awarding dual or joint academic awards.
      13. Acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution.
      14. Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for students of another institution that has ceased operating before all students have completed their program of study.
      15. Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% (notification) or 25-50% (approval) of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs. An agreement offering more than 50% or more of an institution’s programs is prohibited by federal regulation.
      16. Adding competency-based education programs.
      17. Adding each competency-based education program by direct assessment.
      18. Adding programs with completion pathways that recognize and accommodate a student’s prior or existing knowledge or competency.
  3. Notification/Approval
    The SACSCOC Board of Trustees has approved substantive changes that require notification and, in some cases, approval prior to implementation. Certain substantive changes require prior notification to the SACSCOC. Other substantive changes require submission of a substantive change prospectus for approval prior to the implementation of the change. Other substantive changes may require on-site committee review by the Commission. The college’s Accreditation Liaison, in consultation with SACSCOC policies and staff, determines the applicability of these means of notification, approval, and review to the proposed institutional change activity. Policies, procedures, and information regarding substantive change can be found on the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Research webpage at The following policies and procedures are established to ensure timely reporting of substantive changes to the Commission.
    1. The responsibilities for reporting substantive change are regularly communicated to all college faculty and staff by means of the President’s Annual Policy Memo.
    2. The Bylaws of the College’s Academic and Curriculum Council make the Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Student Success Initiatives/SACSCOC Liaison a permanent member of the council. This council is the body with primary responsibility for decisions regarding the college curriculum.
    3. The form for submission of Academic and Curriculum Council agenda items contains a line item for mandatory review of SACSCOC requirements that may be associated with the submitted action item.
    4. All proposals for new and/or revised academic programs submitted to the Tennessee Board of Regents for approval include a line item or mandatory review of SACSCOC requirements that may be associated with the submitted proposal.
    5. To ensure that substantive changes are subject to ongoing review, the Vice President for Student Learning will include discussion of planned institutional actions in all areas falling within the governance of Standard 14.2 tri-annually during regularly scheduled deans’ meetings. The SACSCOC Liaison will facilitate these discussions.
  4. Non-Compliance
    If an institution is non-compliant with Substantive Change Policy and Procedures or Standard 14.2 (Substantive Change), its accreditation may be in jeopardy. An unreported substantive change may require a review of the institution’s substantive change policy and procedures document by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees. Non-compliance subjects the institution to monitoring, sanction, or removal from membership. Failure to secure approval, if required, of a substantive change involving programs or locations that qualify for Title IV federal funding may place the institution in jeopardy with the U.S. Department of Education, including reimbursement of funds received related to an unreported substantive change.
Revision History: 06/27/2016, 05/25/2018
Revision Date Effective: 03/18/2024
Revision Approval By: Christopher L. Whaley, President
Original Date Effective: 01/28/2013
Original Approval By: Christopher L. Whaley, President
Office Responsible: Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Student Success Initiatives
Reviewed: 02/09/2024

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