About Substantive Change
A substantive change is a change to an institution’s mission, educational programs, scope, control, or organizational structure that needs to be reported to and approved by WSCUC in advance of implementation. The standard of review for substantive changes is whether a substantive change would adversely affect the institution’s capacity to meet WSCUC Standards of Accreditation.
WSCUC’s review procedures are tailored to different types of substantive changes with consideration for the scope and significance of each change for the institution.
The substantive change process is designed to ensure the consistency of quality across all institutional operations, on and off-campus and through distance education. The concern for quality has grown as off-campus programs have crossed regional and international boundaries, technology-mediated learning has flourished, and more institutions are beginning to offer both professional and research doctorates.
In 1994 and then again in 2008, the Higher Education Reauthorization Acts led to a significant number of regulations concerning substantive change, and the U.S. Department of Education began requiring federally mandated site visits to off-campus programs and authentication of students enrolled in distance education programs.
Under both Commission policy and federal law, certain substantive changes are required to have prior approval. The procedures defined in the Substantive Change Manual provide guidelines for institutions to demonstrate compliance with these regulations, as well as other WSCUC requirements.