Proposed Revision to 220 - Higher Education Centers




            Montana's community colleges, independent colleges and units of the University System share the responsibility to maximize the availability of educational opportunities for the state's citizens in a manner which will enhance quality while minimizing unnecessary duplication of effort and potentially harmful competition.  Concurrently, these same institutions must insure that the state's resources are used in a prudent and responsible manner.  To these ends, this policy will govern the offering of off-campus instructional program by units of the Montana University System.


Board policy:


            1.  The presidents of the Montana University System are authorized to plan higher education centers to provide additional educational services to the people of the State of Montana.


            2.  Credit courses shall be offered at locations remote from the main campus through continuing education or at an approved higher education center.  Credit courses offered through the regular instruction program shall be offered off-campus only at approved higher education centers.


            3.  Higher education centers which duplicate existing undergraduate programs offered by a community college or an independent college in its respective local community will not be established by a Montana University System institution unless the affected community college or independent college signifies its approval of the offering in writing to the Commissioner of Higher Education.


            4.  The Board of Regents may authorize the establishment of a higher education center upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of Higher Education, according to the following guidelines.




            1.  Any program offered at a higher education center must be within the approved role and scope mission and authorized programs of the institution.


            2.  Before a request is made to the Commissioner of Higher Education for approval to establish a higher education center or revise an existing authorization, the president shall document that the following conditions have been met.


                        a.  Faculty.  Persons assigned to teach courses for which resident credit is to be granted must have credentials at least equivalent to those required of faculty teaching the same or similar courses for resident credit at the home institution.


                        b.  Educational resources.  Additional resources, including library and/or laboratory facilities and other resources specifically developed for a specific course or program must be sufficient to offer a quality program.


                        c.  Student eligibility.  Students must meet the same admission and academic standards including grade point averages that are required of students taking the same or similar programs at the home institution.


                        d.  Local coordinator.  A local coordinator shall be designated and be available in the community in which the center is located in order to handle administrative arrangements and to act as a contact person.


                        e.  Student counseling and advisement.  Provisions shall be made for student counseling and advisement.


            3.   A higher education center may be designated for only certain program areas or certain levels of instruction.


            4.  A higher education center shall offer a structured, coherent educational program, and shall not be merely the physical location for occasional course offerings.  A proposal should contain data on the population to be served, the course offerings projected, and the number of regular, resident and adjunct faculty that will be utilized.


            5.  Student credit hour generation.  Student credit hours generated in degree credit programs at higher education centers shall be subject to the same reporting requirements as regular instructional programs at the home institution; however, separate reports shall be prepared for each center.  The Montana University System Registrars' Manual for Reporting Enrollment Data shall be followed.  If a course would not be eligible for credit at the home institution, it shall not be granted credit at a higher education center.


            6.  Fees.  The following fees apply:


                        a.  Regular Student Fees.  Centers shall charge enrolled students the normal authorized on-campus fees including admission, registration, incidentals, building, etc.  Units, however, may waive the student activity and student health fees for students enrolled in off-campus programs.  Students not qualifying as state residents shall be required to pay the normal non-resident fee.



                        b.  Educational Service Fee.  Upon approval of the Commissioner of Higher Education, an additional educational services fee may be charged each student to provide the services required by the program.


                        c.  Non-credit or Continuing Education Fees.  Fees for any non-credit or continuing education programs which may be offered through a higher education center shall be governed by the appropriate Regent policies.


            7.  Interinstitutional relations.


                        a.  When more than one institution conducts programs through a higher education center in the same community, the Commissioner of Higher Education shall be responsible for establishing policies and procedures to insure necessary program coordination.


                        b.  If concerns arise about potential competition between an independent or community college and units of the Montana University System in the development of higher education centers, the Commissioner of Higher Education may incorporate measures for addressing the problems.


                        c.  Montana University System institutions are encouraged to establish cooperative programs with independent colleges and community colleges as appropriate.


                        d.  Each college, university, vocational-technical center and community college is authorized to serve as a higher education center for delivery of academic programs from another unit, provided that there is the appropriate memorandum of understanding signed by the respective presidents and the Commissioner of Higher Education.  Such memoranda shall be in effect for no more than three years, but may be renewed with the approval of the Commissioner.


            8.  Montana University System Higher Education Center.  If a single system-wide higher education center is deemed more appropriate than separate institutional centers, the Commissioner of Higher Education shall establish policies to provide for necessary coordination, equitable distribution of student credit hours generated, allocation of fee revenues and any other matters.  If it becomes desirable to change from existing separate higher education center operations to a system-wide program, the Commissioner may make such changes.


            9.  Program quality.  It shall be the responsibility of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the president(s) involved to insure that the quality of the programs offered at a higher education center shall meet the same criteria by which the quality of programs is assessed at the home institution.  Programs which cannot meet such criteria may not be offered.


            10. Evaluation.  The Commissioner of Higher Education in conjunction with the presidents shall provide for the evaluation of each higher education center after the third year of operation and periodically thereafter.  If the center is not meeting its original or modified objectives, the Commissioner may recommend to the Regents that it be discontinued.


            11.  Program proposal dissemination.  A copy of any proposal for the establishment of new programs or major modification of existing programs through a higher education center shall be provided to all institutions of higher education in the state and to the vocational technical centers for their information and comment.  The proposal shall address possible significant adverse impact on other Montana postsecondary educational institutions.


            12.  Nomenclature.  A higher education center shall be named as follows:  (Name of Institution)  Center at (Location) or Montana University System Center at (Location).







                Item 27-001-RO480, Higher Education Centers, Montana University System, April 21, 1980 as revised September 15, 1992.