Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 23.1. Institutions of Higher Education; Other Educational and Cultural Institutions
Chapter 2. State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
6/25/2022

Chapter 2. State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Article 1. Membership and Organization.

§ 23.1-200. State Council of Higher Education for Virginia established; purpose; membership; terms; officers.

A. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is established to advocate for and promote the development and operation of an educationally and economically sound, vigorous, progressive, and coordinated system of higher education in the Commonwealth and lead state-level strategic planning and policy development and implementation based on research and analysis and in accordance with § 23.1-301 and subsection A of § 23.1-1002. The Council shall seek to facilitate collaboration among institutions of higher education that will enhance quality and create operational efficiencies and work with institutions of higher education and their governing boards on board development.

B. The Council shall be composed of individuals selected from the Commonwealth at large without regard to political affiliation but with due consideration of geographical representation. Nonlegislative citizen members shall have demonstrated experience, knowledge, and understanding of higher education and workforce needs. Nonlegislative citizen members shall be selected for their ability and all appointments shall be of such nature as to aid the work of the Council and inspire the highest degree of cooperation and confidence. No officer, employee, trustee, or member of the governing board of any institution of higher education, employee of the Commonwealth, member of the General Assembly, or member of the Board of Education is eligible for appointment to the Council except as specified in this section. All members of the Council are members at large who shall serve the best interests of the whole Commonwealth. No member shall act as the representative of any particular region or of any particular institution of higher education.

C. The Council shall consist of 13 members: 12 nonlegislative citizen members appointed by the Governor and one ex officio member. At least one nonlegislative citizen member shall have served as a chief executive officer of a public institution of higher education. At least one nonlegislative citizen member shall be a division superintendent or the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The President of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority shall serve ex officio with voting privileges.

D. All terms shall begin July 1.

E. Nonlegislative citizen members shall serve for terms of four years. Vacancies occurring other than by expiration of a term shall be filled for the unexpired term. No nonlegislative citizen member shall serve for more than two consecutive terms; however, a nonlegislative citizen member appointed to serve an unexpired term is eligible to serve two consecutive four-year terms. No nonlegislative citizen member who has served two consecutive four-year terms is eligible to serve on the Council until at least two years have passed since the end of his second consecutive four-year term. All appointments are subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. Nonlegislative citizen members shall continue to hold office until their successors have been appointed and qualified. Ex officio members shall serve terms coincident with their terms of office.

F. The Council shall elect a chairman and a vice-chairman from its membership. The Council shall appoint a secretary and such other officers as it deems necessary and prescribe their duties and terms of office.

G. At each meeting, the Council shall involve the chief executive officer of each public institution of higher education in its agenda. The chief executive officers shall present information and comment on issues of common interest and choose presenters to the Council from among themselves who reflect the diversity of the institutions.

H. At each meeting, the Council may involve other groups, including the presidents of private institutions of higher education, in its agenda.

1956, c. 311, § 23-9.3; 1964, c. 597; 1970, c. 117; 1972, c. 210; 1974, c. 544; 1980, c. 728; 1991, c. 590; 2013, c. 605; 2016, c. 588; 2017, c. 314; 2018, c. 202.

§ 23.1-201. Student advisory committee.

A. The Director of the Council shall appoint a student advisory committee consisting of students enrolled in public institutions of higher education and accredited private institutions of higher education whose primary purpose is to provide collegiate or graduate education and not to provide religious training. Appointments shall be made in a manner to ensure broad student representation from among such institutions.

B. Members shall serve for terms of one year. Vacancies occurring other than by expiration of a term shall be filled for the unexpired term. Members may be reappointed to serve subsequent or consecutive terms.

C. The Director of the Council shall ensure that at least one member of the student advisory committee is reappointed each year. The student advisory committee shall elect a chairman from among its members.

D. The student advisory committee shall meet at least twice annually and advise the Director of the Council regarding such matters as may come before it.

2003, c. 710, § 23-9.3:1; 2006, c. 92; 2009, c. 434; 2016, c. 588; 2017, c. 314; 2020, c. 578.

§ 23.1-202. Employment of director and other personnel.

The Council shall appoint and employ a director who shall be the chief executive officer of the Council and employ such other personnel as may be required to assist it in the exercise of its powers and duties.

1956, c. 311, § 23-9.4; 1974, c. 544; 1997, cc. 803, 888, 891; 2002, cc. 591, 612; 2016, c. 588.

Article 2. Powers and Duties.

§ 23.1-203. Duties of Council.

The Council shall:

1. Develop a statewide strategic plan that (i) reflects the goals set forth in subsection A of § 23.1-1002 or (ii) once adopted, reflects the goals and objectives developed pursuant to subdivision B 5 of § 23.1-309 for higher education in the Commonwealth, identifies a coordinated approach to such state and regional goals, and emphasizes the future needs for higher education in the Commonwealth at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels and the mission, programs, facilities, and location of each of the existing institutions of higher education, each public institution's six-year plan, and such other matters as the Council deems appropriate. The Council shall revise such plan at least once every six years and shall submit such recommendations as are necessary for the implementation of the plan to the Governor and the General Assembly.

2. Review and approve or disapprove any proposed change in the statement of mission of any public institution of higher education and define the mission of all newly created public institutions of higher education. The Council shall report such approvals, disapprovals, and definitions to the Governor and the General Assembly at least once every six years. No such actions shall become effective until 30 days after adjournment of the session of the General Assembly next following the filing of such a report. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to authorize the Council to modify any mission statement adopted by the General Assembly or empower the Council to affect, either directly or indirectly, the selection of faculty or the standards and criteria for admission of any public institution of higher education, whether relating to academic standards, residence, or other criteria. Faculty selection and student admission policies shall remain a function of the individual public institutions of higher education.

3. Study any proposed escalation of any public institution of higher education to a degree-granting level higher than that level to which it is presently restricted and submit a report and recommendation to the Governor and the General Assembly relating to the proposal. The study shall include the need for and benefits or detriments to be derived from the escalation. No such institution shall implement any such proposed escalation until the Council's report and recommendation have been submitted to the General Assembly and the General Assembly approves the institution's proposal.

4. Review and approve or disapprove all enrollment projections proposed by each public institution of higher education. The Council's projections shall be organized numerically by level of enrollment and shall be used solely for budgetary, fiscal, and strategic planning purposes. The Council shall develop estimates of the number of degrees to be awarded by each public institution of higher education and include those estimates in its reports of enrollment projections. The student admissions policies for such institutions and their specific programs shall remain the sole responsibility of the individual governing boards but all baccalaureate public institutions of higher education shall adopt dual admissions policies with comprehensive community colleges as required by § 23.1-907.

5. Review and approve or disapprove all new undergraduate or graduate academic programs that any public institution of higher education proposes.

6. Review and require the discontinuance of any undergraduate or graduate academic program that is presently offered by any public institution of higher education when the Council determines that such academic program is (i) nonproductive in terms of the number of degrees granted, the number of students served by the program, the program's effectiveness, and budgetary considerations or (ii) supported by state funds and unnecessarily duplicative of academic programs offered at other public institutions of higher education. The Council shall make a report to the Governor and the General Assembly with respect to the discontinuance of any such academic program. No such discontinuance shall become effective until 30 days after the adjournment of the session of the General Assembly next following the filing of such report.

7. Review and approve or disapprove the establishment of any department, school, college, branch, division, or extension of any public institution of higher education that such institution proposes to establish, whether located on or off the main campus of such institution. If any organizational change is determined by the Council to be proposed solely for the purpose of internal management and the institution's curricular offerings remain constant, the Council shall approve the proposed change. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to authorize the Council to disapprove the establishment of any such department, school, college, branch, division, or extension established by the General Assembly.

8. Review the proposed closure of any academic program in a high demand or critical shortage area, as defined by the Council, by any public institution of higher education and assist in the development of an orderly closure plan, when needed.

9. Develop a uniform, comprehensive data information system designed to gather all information necessary to the performance of the Council's duties. The system shall include information on admissions, enrollment, self-identified students with documented disabilities, personnel, programs, financing, space inventory, facilities, and such other areas as the Council deems appropriate. When consistent with the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (§ 2.2-3800 et seq.), the Virginia Unemployment Compensation Act (§ 60.2-100 et seq.), and applicable federal law, the Council, acting solely or in partnership with the Virginia Department of Education or the Virginia Employment Commission, may contract with private entities to create de-identified student records in which all personally identifiable information has been removed for the purpose of assessing the performance of institutions and specific programs relative to the workforce needs of the Commonwealth.

10. In cooperation with public institutions of higher education, develop guidelines for the assessment of student achievement. Each such institution shall use an approved program that complies with the guidelines of the Council and is consistent with the institution's mission and educational objectives in the development of such assessment. The Council shall report each institution's assessment of student achievement in the revisions to the Commonwealth's statewide strategic plan for higher education.

11. In cooperation with the appropriate state financial and accounting officials, develop and establish uniform standards and systems of accounting, recordkeeping, and statistical reporting for public institutions of higher education.

12. Review biennially and approve or disapprove all changes in the inventory of educational and general space that any public institution of higher education proposes and report such approvals and disapprovals to the Governor and the General Assembly. No such change shall become effective until 30 days after the adjournment of the session of the General Assembly next following the filing of such report.

13. Visit and study the operations of each public institution of higher education at such times as the Council deems appropriate and conduct such other studies in the field of higher education as the Council deems appropriate or as may be requested by the Governor or the General Assembly.

14. Provide advisory services to each accredited nonprofit private institution of higher education whose primary purpose is to provide collegiate or graduate education and not to provide religious training or theological education on academic, administrative, financial, and space utilization matters. The Council may review and advise on joint activities, including contracts for services between public institutions of higher education and such private institutions of higher education or between such private institutions of higher education and any agency or political subdivision of the Commonwealth.

15. Adopt such policies and regulations as the Council deems necessary to implement its duties established by state law. Each public institution of higher education shall comply with such policies and regulations.

16. Issue guidelines consistent with the provisions of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g), requiring public institutions of higher education to release a student's academic and disciplinary record to a student's parent.

17. Require each institution of higher education formed, chartered, or established in the Commonwealth after July 1, 1980, to ensure the preservation of student transcripts in the event of institutional closure or revocation of approval to operate in the Commonwealth. An institution may ensure the preservation of student transcripts by binding agreement with another institution of higher education with which it is not corporately connected or in such other way as the Council may authorize by regulation. In the event that an institution closes or has its approval to operate in the Commonwealth revoked, the Council, through its director, may take such action as is necessary to secure and preserve the student transcripts until such time as an appropriate institution accepts all or some of the transcripts. Nothing in this subdivision shall be deemed to interfere with the right of a student to his own transcripts or authorize disclosure of student records except as may otherwise be authorized by law.

18. Require the development and submission of articulation, dual admissions, and guaranteed admissions agreements between associate-degree-granting and baccalaureate public institutions of higher education.

19. Provide periodic updates of base adequacy funding guidelines adopted by the Joint Subcommittee Studying Higher Education Funding Policies for each public institution of higher education.

20. Develop, pursuant to the provisions of § 23.1-907, guidelines for articulation, dual admissions, and guaranteed admissions agreements, including guidelines related to a one-year Uniform Certificate of General Studies Program and a one-semester Passport Program to be offered at each comprehensive community college. The guidelines developed pursuant to this subdivision shall be developed in consultation with all public institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth, the Department of Education, and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents and shall ensure standardization, quality, and transparency in the implementation of the programs and agreements. At the discretion of the Council, private institutions of higher education eligible for tuition assistance grants may also be consulted.

21. Cooperate with the Board of Education in matters of interest to both public elementary and secondary schools and public institutions of higher education, particularly in connection with coordination of the college admission requirements, coordination of teacher training programs with the public school programs, and the Board of Education's Six-Year Educational Technology Plan for Virginia. The Council shall encourage public institutions of higher education to design programs that include the skills necessary for the successful implementation of such Plan.

22. Advise and provide technical assistance to the Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship Committee in the implementation and administration of the Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship Program pursuant to Chapter 34.1 (§ 30-231.01 et seq.) of Title 30.

23. Insofar as possible, seek the cooperation and utilize the facilities of existing state departments, institutions, and agencies in carrying out its duties.

24. Serve as the coordinating council for public institutions of higher education.

25. Serve as the planning and coordinating agency for all postsecondary educational programs for all health professions and occupations and make recommendations, including those relating to financing, for providing adequate and coordinated educational programs to produce an appropriate supply of properly trained personnel. The Council may conduct such studies as it deems appropriate in furtherance of the requirements of this subdivision. All state departments and agencies shall cooperate with the Council in the execution of its responsibilities under this subdivision.

26. Carry out such duties as the Governor may assign to it in response to agency designations requested by the federal government.

27. Insofar as practicable, preserve the individuality, traditions, and sense of responsibility of each public institution of higher education in carrying out its duties.

28. Insofar as practicable, seek the assistance and advice of each public institution of higher education in fulfilling its duties and responsibilities.

29. Administer the Virginia Longitudinal Data System as a multiagency partnership for the purposes of developing educational, health, social service, and employment outcome data; improving the efficacy of state services; and aiding decision making.

1956, c. 311, §§ 23-9.5, 23-9.8, 23-9.13; 1970, c. 294, § 23-9.10:1; 1974, c. 544, § 23-9.6:1; 1977, cc. 319, 413, 676, § 23-261; 1979, cc. 2, 28, 136, 145, 619; 1980, c. 728; 1985, c. 448; 1989, c. 105; 1991, cc. 454, 590; 1992, c. 103; 1996, c. 215; 1997, c. 827; 1999, cc. 451, 460; 2001, c. 841; 2002, cc. 95, 158, 257; 2003, cc. 715, 725; 2004, cc. 176, 195, 502; 2005, cc. 753, 818, 834, 933, 945, § 23-9.8:1; 2006, c. 379; 2009, cc. 55, 56; 2010, cc. 68, 527; 2011, cc. 828, 869; 2012, c. 142; 2014, c. 628; 2016, c. 588, 775; 2017, cc. 314, 376, 796, 816; 2018, cc. 832, 845; 2020, cc. 1164, 1169.

§ 23.1-204. Expired.

Expired by the terms of Acts 2012, c. 694, cl. 2, on June 30, 2017.

§ 23.1-204.1. Postgraduation employment rates.

A. The Council shall annually collect and publish on its website data on the proportion of graduates of each public institution of higher education and each nonprofit private institution of higher education eligible to participate in the Tuition Assistance Grant Program (§ 23.1-628 et seq.) who are employed (i) 18 months after the date of graduation and (ii) five years after the date of graduation. The data shall include the program and the program level, as recognized by the Council, for each degree awarded by each institution; the percentage of graduates known to be employed in the Commonwealth, by degree program and level; the average salary, hours worked, as available, occupation or occupation code, as available, and the average higher education-related debt for the graduates on which the data is based, by degree program and level; rates of enrollment in remedial coursework for each institution; individual student credit accumulation for each institution; rates of postsecondary degree completion; and any other information that the Council determines is necessary to address adequate preparation for success in postsecondary education, alignment between secondary and postsecondary education, and alignment between postsecondary education and workforce preparation. The published data shall be consistent with the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (§ 2.2-3800 et seq.) and the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g.

B. The Council shall disseminate to each public high school and each public institution of higher education and private institution of higher education for which the Council has student-level data a link on its website to the published data.

C. The Council shall provide a notification template that each public high school may use to annually notify students and their parents about the availability of such data.

D. Each public institution of higher education and each nonprofit private institution of higher education eligible to participate in the Tuition Assistance Grant Program (§ 23.1-628 et seq.) shall provide a link on its website to the postsecondary education and employment data published pursuant to subsection A and shall make such link available to each admitted student.

2017, c. 376; 2018, cc. 387, 590.

§ 23.1-205. Authority to carry out federal requirements.

The Council may prepare plans, administer federal programs, and receive and disburse any federal funds in accordance with the responsibilities assigned to it by federal statutes or regulations.

1977, c. 676, § 23-261; 1991, c. 590; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-206. Assessments of the performance of public institutions of higher education.

A. 1. The Council shall develop and revise as appropriate, in consultation with the respective Chairmen of the House Committees on Education and Appropriations and the Senate Committees on Finance and Appropriations and on Education and Health or their designees, representatives of public institutions of higher education, and such other state officials as may be designated by the Governor, objective measures of educational-related performance and institutional performance benchmarks for such objective measures for each public institution of higher education. At a minimum, the Council shall develop objective measures and institutional performance benchmarks for the goals and objectives set forth in subsection A of § 23.1-1002.

2. The Governor shall develop and revise as appropriate objective measures of financial and administrative management performance and related institutional performance benchmarks for the goals and objectives set forth in subdivision A 11 of § 23.1-1002.

B. The Governor shall include objective measures of financial and administrative management and educational-related performance and related institutional performance benchmarks as described in subsection A in "The Budget Bill" submitted as required by subsection A of § 2.2-1509 or in his proposed gubernatorial amendments to the general appropriation act pursuant to subsection E of § 2.2-1509.

C. The Council shall annually assess the degree to which each public institution of higher education has met the financial and administrative management and educational-related performance benchmarks set forth in the current general appropriation act. Such annual assessment shall be based upon the objective measures and institutional performance benchmarks included in the current general appropriation act. The Council shall request assistance from the Secretaries of Finance and Administration who shall provide such assistance for the purpose of assessing whether public institutions of higher education have met the financial and administrative management performance benchmarks.

No later than June 1 of every fiscal year, the Council shall provide a certified written report of the results of such annual assessment to the Governor and the respective Chairmen of the House Committees on Education and Appropriations and the Senate Committees on Finance and Appropriations and on Education and Health.

Each public institution of higher education that is certified by the Council as having met the financial and administrative management and educational-related performance benchmarks in effect for the fiscal year as set forth in the general appropriation act is entitled to the financial benefits set forth in subsection C of § 23.1-1002. Such benefits shall first be provided as determined under such subsection.

2005, cc. 933, 945, § 23-9.6:1.01; 2011, cc. 828, 869; 2013, c. 482; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-207. Tuition relief and refunds and reinstatement for certain students in the Armed Forces.

A. The Council shall issue and revise guidelines for tuition relief, refunds, and reinstatement for students whose service in the Armed Forces of the United States or the Commonwealth has required their sudden withdrawal or prolonged absence from their enrollment in a public institution of higher education and shall provide for the required reenrollment of such students by the relevant institution. These guidelines shall be excluded from the provisions of the Administrative Process Act pursuant to § 2.2-4002.

B. The Council shall appoint an advisory committee of at least 10 representatives of the public institutions of higher education to assist in the development and subsequent revision of such guidelines. The Council shall consult with the Office of the Attorney General and provide opportunity for public comment prior to issuing such guidelines or revisions.

C. Such guidelines shall include procedures for the required reenrollment of students whose service in the Armed Forces of the United States or the Commonwealth precluded their completion of a semester or equivalent term and policies for the required reenrollment of such students in such armed forces.

1991, c. 80, § 23-9.6:2; 2004, c. 740; 2011, c. 27; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-208. Budget requests and recommendations.

A. The Council shall develop policies, formulae, and guidelines for the fair and equitable distribution and use of public funds among the public institutions of higher education, taking into account enrollment projections and recognizing differences and similarities in institutional missions. Such policies, formulae, and guidelines shall include provisions for operating expenses and capital outlay programs and shall be utilized by all public institutions of higher education in preparing requests for appropriations. The Council shall consult with the Department of Planning and Budget in the development of such policies, formulae, and guidelines to ensure that they are consistent with the requirements of the Department of Planning and Budget.

B. Not less than 30 days prior to submitting its biennial budget request to the Governor, the governing board of each public institution of higher education shall transmit to the Council such selected budgetary information relating to its budget request for maintenance and operation and for capital outlay as the Council shall reasonably require. The Council shall analyze such information in light of the Council's plans, policies, formulae, and guidelines and shall submit to the Governor recommendations for approval or modification of each institution's request together with a rationale for each such recommendation. The Council shall make available to the General Assembly its analyses and recommendations concerning institutional budget requests.

C. Nothing in this section shall prevent any institution of higher education from appearing through its representatives or otherwise before the Governor, the Governor's advisory committee on the budget, the General Assembly, or any committee of the General Assembly at any time.

D. Funds for any consortium created by The College of William and Mary in Virginia, Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for the purpose of promoting graduate marine science education may be included in the budget request of and the appropriations to the Council.

1956, c. 311, § 23-9.9; 1974, c. 544; 1979, c. 294, § 23-9.9:1; 1991, c. 590; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-209. Reports of expenditures of state funds.

The governing board of each public institution of higher education shall provide the Council annual data indicating the apportionment and amounts of expenditures that the relevant institution expends by category, including academic costs, administration, research, and public service, as defined by the Council. The Council shall compile and submit a report of such data annually to the Governor and the General Assembly.

2003, c. 184, § 23-9.9:01; 2007, c. 630; 2012, cc. 803, 835; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-210. Advisory services to accredited nonprofit private institutions of higher education; Private College Advisory Board.

A. The Council shall provide advisory services to accredited nonprofit private institutions of higher education on academic and administrative matters. The Council may review and advise on joint activities, including contracts for services, between nonprofit private institutions of higher education and public institutions of higher education and between nonprofit private institutions of higher education and any agency or political subdivision of the Commonwealth. The Council may collect and analyze such data as may be pertinent to such activities.

B. The Council shall seek the advice of the Private College Advisory Board, and the Advisory Board shall assist the Council in the performance of its duties as required by subsection A. The Private College Advisory Board shall be composed of representatives of nonprofit private institutions of higher education and such other members as the Council may select and shall be broadly representative of nonprofit private institutions of higher education.

C. The Private College Advisory Board shall meet at least once each year.

1974, c. 40, § 23-9.10:2; 1980, c. 728; 1985, c. 448; 2016, c. 588; 2017, c. 314.

§ 23.1-211. Distance learning reciprocity agreements; participation; Distance Learning Reciprocity Advisory Council.

A. The Council may enter into interstate reciprocity agreements that authorize accredited associate-degree-granting and baccalaureate (i) public institutions of higher education and (ii) private institutions of higher education to offer postsecondary distance education. The Council shall administer such agreements and shall approve or disapprove participation in such agreements by accredited associate-degree-granting and baccalaureate (a) public institutions of higher education and (b) private institutions of higher education. Participation in the agreements is voluntary.

B. The Council shall establish the Distance Learning Reciprocity Advisory Council, which shall include representatives from each institution that offers postsecondary distance education pursuant to an interstate reciprocity agreement as set forth in subsection A. The Advisory Council shall advise the Council on the development of policies governing the terms of participation by eligible institutions, including the establishment of fees to be paid by participating institutions to cover direct and indirect administrative costs incurred by the Council.

2014, c. 323, § 23-9.14:3; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-212. Effect upon powers of governing boards of public institutions of higher education; endowment funds.

A. The powers of the governing boards of public institutions of higher education over the affairs of such institutions are not impaired by the provisions of this chapter except to the extent that powers and duties are specifically conferred upon the Council in this chapter.

B. The Council shall have no authority over the solicitation, investment, or expenditure of endowment funds now held or in the future received by any public institution of higher education.

1956, c. 311, § 23-9.14; 1974, c. 544; 2016, c. 588.

Article 3. Regulation of Certain Private and Out-of-State Institutions of Higher Education.

§ 23.1-213. (Effective until July 1, 2022) Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Academic-vocational non-college degree school" means a non-college degree school that offers degree and nondegree credit courses.

"Agent" means a person who is employed by any institution of higher education or non-college degree school, whether such institution or school is located within or outside the Commonwealth, to act as an agent, solicitor, procurer, broker, or independent contractor to procure students or enrollees for any such institution or school by solicitation in any form at any place in the Commonwealth other than the office or principal location of such institution or school.

"Certificate" means an award that is given by (i) institutions of higher education and academic-vocational non-college degree schools for successful completion of a curriculum consisting of courses that may also be taken for degree credit or (ii) vocational non-college degree schools for successful completion of a curriculum. "Certificate" includes a diploma.

"College" means any associate-degree-granting institution of higher education or institution of higher education at which a bachelor's degree is the most advanced degree that is granted.

"Continuing or professional education" means those classes, courses, and programs designed specifically for individuals who have completed a degree in a professional field that (i) are intended to fulfill the continuing education requirements for licensure or certification in such professional field, (ii) have been approved by a legislatively or judicially established board or agency responsible for regulating the practice of the profession, and (iii) are offered exclusively to an individual practicing in such professional field.

"Degree" means any earned award at the associate, baccalaureate, graduate, first professional, or specialist levels that represents satisfactory completion of the requirements of a program or course of study or instruction beyond the secondary school level.

"Degree credit" means any earned credits awarded for successful completion of the requirements of a course of study or instruction beyond the secondary school level that may be used toward completion of a certificate or degree.

"Fraudulent academic credential" means a certificate, academic transcript, or other document issued by a person or other entity that is not an institution of higher education that provides evidence of or demonstrates completion of coursework or academic credit that results in the issuance of a degree.

"Institution of higher education" or "institution" means any person or other entity, other than a public institution of higher education or any other entity authorized to issue bonds pursuant to Chapter 11 (§ 23.1-1100 et seq.), that has received approval from the Council to (i) use the term "college" or "university," or words of like meaning, in its name or in any manner in connection with its academic affairs or business; (ii) enroll students; and (iii) offer approved courses for degree credit or programs of study leading to a degree or offer degrees either at a site or via telecommunications equipment located in the Commonwealth.

"Multistate compact" means any agreement involving two or more states to jointly offer postsecondary educational opportunities pursuant to policies and procedures established in such agreement and approved by the Council.

"Non-college degree school" means any person or other entity that offers courses or programs of study that do not lead to a degree. "Non-college degree school" includes academic-vocational non-college degree schools and vocational non-college degree schools.

"Nondegree credit" means any earned credits awarded for successful completion of the requirements of a course of study or instruction beyond the secondary school level that may be used toward completion of a certificate but may not be used to earn a degree.

"Out-of-state" means formed, chartered, established, or incorporated outside of the Commonwealth.

"Postsecondary school" means any institution of higher education or non-college degree school offering formal instructional programs with a curriculum designed primarily for students who have completed the requirements for a high school diploma or its equivalent. "Postsecondary school" includes programs of academic, vocational, and continuing professional education, except courses or programs of continuing professional education set forth in subdivision B 4 of § 23.1-226. "Postsecondary school" does not include avocational and adult basic education programs.

"Program" means a curriculum or course of study in a discipline or interdisciplinary area that leads to a degree or certificate.

"Program area" means a general group of disciplines in which one or more programs may be offered.

"Proprietary" means privately owned, privately managed, and corporately structured as a for-profit entity.

"Site" means a location in the Commonwealth where a postsecondary school (i) offers at least one course on an established schedule and (ii) enrolls at least two individuals who are not members of the same household, regardless of the presence or absence of administrative capability at such location.

"Teachout plan" means a written agreement between or among postsecondary schools that provides for the equitable treatment of students if one party to the agreement ceases to offer an educational program before all students enrolled in that program complete the program.

"University" means any baccalaureate institution of higher education.

"Vocational non-college degree school" means a non-college degree school that offers only courses for nondegree credit. "Vocational non-college degree school" does not include instructional programs that are intended solely for recreation, enjoyment, or personal interest or as a hobby or courses or instructional programs that prepare individuals to teach such pursuits.

Code 1950, § 23-265; 1980, c. 658; 1996, cc. 691, 832; 1999, cc. 458, 499; 2002, c. 178, § 23-276.1; 2004, cc. 671, 991; 2005, c. 447; 2007, cc. 82, 115; 2008, c. 856; 2010, cc. 67, 263; 2013, c. 229; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-213. (Effective July 1, 2022) Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Academic-vocational non-college degree school" means a non-college degree school that offers degree and nondegree credit courses.

"Agent" means a person who is employed by any institution of higher education or non-college degree school, whether such institution or school is located within or outside the Commonwealth, to act as an agent, solicitor, procurer, broker, or independent contractor to procure students or enrollees for any such institution or school by solicitation in any form at any place in the Commonwealth other than the office or principal location of such institution or school.

"Certificate" means an award that is given by (i) institutions of higher education and academic-vocational non-college degree schools for successful completion of a curriculum consisting of courses that may also be taken for degree credit or (ii) vocational non-college degree schools for successful completion of a curriculum. "Certificate" includes a diploma.

"College" means any associate-degree-granting institution of higher education or institution of higher education at which a bachelor's degree is the most advanced degree that is granted.

"Continuing or professional education" means those classes, courses, and programs designed specifically for individuals who have completed a degree in a professional field that (i) are intended to fulfill the continuing education requirements for licensure or certification in such professional field, (ii) have been approved by a legislatively or judicially established board or agency responsible for regulating the practice of the profession, and (iii) are offered exclusively to an individual practicing in such professional field.

"Degree" means any earned award at the associate, baccalaureate, graduate, first professional, or specialist levels that represents satisfactory completion of the requirements of a program or course of study or instruction beyond the secondary school level.

"Degree credit" means any earned credits awarded for successful completion of the requirements of a course of study or instruction beyond the secondary school level that may be used toward completion of a certificate or degree.

"Distance learning" or "distance learning modality" means any course offered by a postsecondary school for which the primary mode of instructional delivery is by television, videocassette or disc, film, radio, computer, or other telecommunications devices.

"Fraudulent academic credential" means a certificate, academic transcript, or other document issued by a person or other entity that is not an institution of higher education that provides evidence of or demonstrates completion of coursework or academic credit that results in the issuance of a degree.

"Institution of higher education" or "institution" means any person or other entity, other than a public institution of higher education or any other entity authorized to issue bonds pursuant to Chapter 11 (§ 23.1-1100 et seq.), that has received approval from the Council to (i) use the term "college" or "university," or words of like meaning, in its name or in any manner in connection with its academic affairs or business; (ii) enroll students; and (iii) offer approved courses for degree credit or programs of study leading to a degree or offer degrees either at a site or via a distance learning modality.

"Multistate compact" means any agreement involving two or more states to jointly offer postsecondary educational opportunities pursuant to policies and procedures established in such agreement and approved by the Council.

"Non-college degree school" means any person or other entity that offers courses or programs of study that do not lead to a degree. "Non-college degree school" includes academic-vocational non-college degree schools and vocational non-college degree schools.

"Nondegree credit" means any earned credits awarded for successful completion of the requirements of a course of study or instruction beyond the secondary school level that may be used toward completion of a certificate but may not be used to earn a degree.

"Out-of-state" means formed, chartered, established, or incorporated outside of the Commonwealth.

"Postsecondary school" means any institution of higher education or non-college degree school offering formal instructional programs with a curriculum designed primarily for students who have completed the requirements for a high school diploma or its equivalent. "Postsecondary school" includes programs of academic, vocational, and continuing professional education, except courses or programs of continuing professional education set forth in subdivision B 4 of § 23.1-226. "Postsecondary school" does not include avocational and adult basic education programs.

"Program" means a curriculum or course of study in a discipline or interdisciplinary area that leads to a degree or certificate.

"Program area" means a general group of disciplines in which one or more programs may be offered.

"Proprietary" means privately owned, privately managed, and corporately structured as a for-profit entity.

"Site" means a location in the Commonwealth where a postsecondary school (i) offers at least one course on an established schedule and (ii) enrolls at least two individuals who are not members of the same household, regardless of the presence or absence of administrative capability at such location.

"Teachout plan" means a written agreement between or among postsecondary schools that provides for the equitable treatment of students if one party to the agreement ceases to offer an educational program before all students enrolled in that program complete the program.

"University" means any baccalaureate institution of higher education.

"Vocational non-college degree school" means a non-college degree school that offers only courses for nondegree credit. "Vocational non-college degree school" does not include instructional programs that are intended solely for recreation, enjoyment, or personal interest or as a hobby or courses or instructional programs that prepare individuals to teach such pursuits.

Code 1950, § 23-265; 1980, c. 658; 1996, cc. 691, 832; 1999, cc. 458, 499; 2002, c. 178, § 23-276.1; 2004, cc. 671, 991; 2005, c. 447; 2007, cc. 82, 115; 2008, c. 856; 2010, cc. 67, 263; 2013, c. 229; 2016, c. 588; 2020, c. 380.

§ 23.1-214. Certified mail; subsequent mail or notices may be sent by regular mail.

Whenever the Council is required to send any mail or notice by certified mail pursuant to this article and such mail or notice is sent certified mail, return receipt requested, the Council may send any subsequent, identical mail or notice by regular mail.

2011, c. 566, § 23-276.1:1; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-215. Authority of the Council; regulations; standards for postsecondary schools; delegation of authority to director.

A. The Council shall adopt, pursuant to the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.), such regulations as may be necessary to implement the provisions of this article, including (i) procedures by which a postsecondary school may apply for Council approval to confer degrees in the Commonwealth; (ii) measures designed to ensure that all postsecondary schools that are subject to the provisions of this article meet the minimal standards established pursuant to subsection B; (iii) protections for students pursuing postsecondary education opportunities in postsecondary schools subject to the provisions of this article; and (iv) information to assist persons who rely on postsecondary degrees or certificates to judge the competence of individuals in receipt of such degrees or certificates.

B. The Council shall establish minimal standards for postsecondary schools that include standards for faculty preparation and experience, educational programs, physical plants, additional locations, finances, guaranty instruments, advertising and publications, maintenance of student records, personnel qualifications, student services, the method for collecting and refunding tuition and fees, library resources and services, organization and administration, changes of ownership or control, procedures for student admission and graduation, agent or solicitor requirements, consistency of a postsecondary school's stated purpose with the proposed offerings, reporting requirements, and any other relevant standards or requirements adopted by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

C. The Council shall prescribe the manner, conditions, and language to be used by a postsecondary school or agent of such school to disclose or advertise that the postsecondary school has received certification from the Council to offer postsecondary programs in the Commonwealth.

D. The Council may establish separate certification criteria for various postsecondary school classifications.

E. The Council may grant to its director the authority to take specific actions on its behalf in furtherance of the provisions of this article.

Code 1950, § 23-268; 1980, c. 658; 1996, cc. 691, 832; 2002, c. 178, § 23-276.3; 2004, c. 991; 2005, c. 447; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-216. Career College Advisory Board established.

A. The Council shall establish and seek the advice of the Career College Advisory Board, which shall assist the Council in the performance of its duties and provide advisory services in academic and administrative matters relating to proprietary private postsecondary schools, excluding vocational non-college degree schools. The Career College Advisory Board shall be composed of college and university representatives and such other members as the Council may select and shall be broadly representative of proprietary private postsecondary schools, excluding vocational non-college degree schools.

B. The Career College Advisory Board shall meet at least twice each year and advise the Council and proprietary private postsecondary schools, excluding vocational non-college degree schools, regarding such matters as may come before the Career College Advisory Board. The Council may employ such qualified personnel as may be required to assist the Career College Advisory Board in the performance of its duties.

2004, c. 991, § 23-276.13; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-217. Certification required.

A. No person shall open, operate, or conduct any postsecondary school in the Commonwealth without certification to operate such postsecondary school issued by the Council. The Council shall certify those postsecondary schools in compliance with Council regulations issued pursuant to this article.

B. Postsecondary schools shall seek such certification from the Council immediately after receipt of a valid business license issued by the relevant official of the locality in which it seeks to operate.

2004, c. 991, § 23-276.14; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-218. List of postsecondary schools holding valid certification.

A. The Council shall maintain a list of postsecondary schools holding valid certification under the provisions of this article and shall make such list available to the public.

B. Upon confirmation of any notification or discovery of any postsecondary school operating without its certification or approval, the Council shall notify in writing the relevant local Commissioner of the Revenue or other official serving such equivalent functions of the postsecondary school's violation of such certification or approval requirement and shall recommend revocation of the postsecondary school's business license.

2004, c. 991, § 23-276.15; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-219. (Effective until July 1, 2022) Council certification; requirements and prohibitions.

A. Without obtaining the certification of the Council or a determination that the activity or program is exempt from such certification requirements, no postsecondary school subject to the provisions of this article shall:

1. Use the term "college" or "university" or abbreviations or words of similar meaning in its name or in any manner in connection with its academic affairs or business;

2. Enroll students;

3. Offer degrees, courses for degree credit, programs of study leading to a degree, or courses for nondegree credit, either at a site or via telecommunications equipment located within the Commonwealth; or

4. Initiate other programs for degree credit or award degrees or certificates at a new or additional level.

B. All institutions of higher education and academic-vocational non-college degree schools subject to the provisions of this article shall be fully accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

C. All out-of-state academic-vocational non-college degree schools subject to the provisions of this article shall disclose their accreditation status in all written materials advertising or describing such school that are distributed to prospective or enrolled students or the general public.

D. No postsecondary school shall be required to obtain another certification from the Council to operate in the Commonwealth if it (i) was formed, chartered, or established in the Commonwealth or chartered by an Act of Congress; (ii) has maintained its main campus continuously in the Commonwealth for at least 20 calendar years under its current ownership; (iii) was continuously approved or authorized to confer or grant academic or professional degrees by the Council, the Board of Education, or an act of the General Assembly during those 20 years; and (iv) is fully accredited by an accrediting agency that is recognized by and has met the criteria for Title IV eligibility of the U.S. Department of Education. If the Council revokes an institution's authorization to confer or grant academic or professional degrees, the institution is required to seek recertification annually until it meets the criteria of this subsection.

E. In addition to such other requirements as are established in this article or the regulations of the Council, any out-of-state institution of higher education or academic-vocational non-college degree school shall provide verification that:

1. The institution or school is fully accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education;

2. All courses, degrees, or certificates offered at any site are also offered at an out-of-state campus of the institution or school;

3. All credits earned at any site are transferable to an out-of-state campus of the institution or school; and

4. The institution or school has complied with the requirements of either Article 17 (§ 13.1-757 et seq.) of Chapter 9 of Title 13.1 or Article 14 (§ 13.1-919 et seq.) of Chapter 10 of Title 13.1.

F. Any postsecondary school that seeks to conduct telecommunications activities from a site shall apply for Council approval to conduct such activity and shall comply with this article and the Council's regulations in the same manner as any other postsecondary school subject to this article.

Code 1950, § 23-267; 1980, c. 658; 1996, cc. 691, 832; 2002, c. 178, § 23-276.4; 2004, c. 991; 2005, c. 447; 2006, c. 814; 2014, c. 629; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-219. (Effective July 1, 2022) Council certification; requirements and prohibitions.

A. Without obtaining the certification of the Council or a determination that the activity or program is exempt from such certification requirements, no postsecondary school subject to the provisions of this article shall:

1. Use the term "college" or "university" or abbreviations or words of similar meaning in its name or in any manner in connection with its academic affairs or business;

2. Enroll students;

3. Offer degrees, courses for degree credit, programs of study leading to a degree, or courses for nondegree credit, either at a site or via a distance learning modality; or

4. Initiate other programs for degree credit or award degrees or certificates at a new or additional level.

B. All institutions of higher education and academic-vocational non-college degree schools subject to the provisions of this article shall be fully accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

C. All out-of-state academic-vocational non-college degree schools subject to the provisions of this article shall disclose their accreditation status in all written materials advertising or describing such school that are distributed to prospective or enrolled students or the general public.

D. No postsecondary school shall be required to obtain another certification from the Council to operate in the Commonwealth if it (i) was formed, chartered, or established in the Commonwealth or chartered by an Act of Congress; (ii) has maintained its main campus continuously in the Commonwealth for at least 20 calendar years under its current ownership; (iii) was continuously approved or authorized to confer or grant academic or professional degrees by the Council, the Board of Education, or an act of the General Assembly during those 20 years; and (iv) is fully accredited by an accrediting agency that is recognized by and has met the criteria for Title IV eligibility of the U.S. Department of Education. If the Council revokes an institution's authorization to confer or grant academic or professional degrees, the institution is required to seek recertification annually until it meets the criteria of this subsection.

E. In addition to such other requirements as are established in this article or the regulations of the Council, any out-of-state institution of higher education or academic-vocational non-college degree school shall provide verification that:

1. The institution or school is fully accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education;

2. All courses, degrees, or certificates offered at any site are also offered at an out-of-state campus of the institution or school;

3. All credits earned at any site are transferable to an out-of-state campus of the institution or school; and

4. The institution or school has complied with the requirements of either Article 17 (§ 13.1-757 et seq.) of Chapter 9 of Title 13.1 or Article 14 (§ 13.1-919 et seq.) of Chapter 10 of Title 13.1.

F. Any degree-granting postsecondary school providing distance learning to residents of the Commonwealth from a location outside of the Commonwealth shall be certified to operate in the Commonwealth or shall be a participant in a reciprocity agreement to which the Commonwealth belongs, in accordance with Council's authority pursuant to § 23.1-211, for the purpose of consumer protection.

G. Any postsecondary school that seeks to conduct distance learning activities from a site shall apply for Council approval to conduct such activity and shall comply with this article and the Council's regulations in the same manner as any other postsecondary school subject to this article.

Code 1950, § 23-267; 1980, c. 658; 1996, cc. 691, 832; 2002, c. 178, § 23-276.4; 2004, c. 991; 2005, c. 447; 2006, c. 814; 2014, c. 629; 2016, c. 588; 2020, c. 380.

§ 23.1-220. Approval procedures.

A. Prior to Council approval for a postsecondary school to use the term "college" or "university" or abbreviations or words of similar meaning in its name or in any manner in connection with its academic affairs or business, offer courses or programs for degree credit, enroll students in any courses or programs, or confer or award degrees, each postsecondary school shall be evaluated by the Council in accordance with the regulations adopted pursuant to § 23.1-215.

B. Upon finding that the applicant has fully complied with the regulations adopted pursuant to § 23.1-215, the Council shall approve the application.

C. The Council may defer a decision on an application upon determining that additional information is needed.

D. The Council shall not take into account duplication of effort by public institutions of higher education and private institutions of higher education or other questions of need when considering an application.

Code 1950, § 23-269; 1980, c. 658; 1996, cc. 691, 832; 2002, c. 178, § 23-276.5; 2003, c. 461; 2004, c. 991; 2005, c. 447; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-221. Refusal, suspension, and revocation of approval or certification.

A. The Council may refuse to grant a certification, may revoke or suspend a prior approval or certification, including any approval or authorization issued prior to July 1, 1980, and may add conditions to any approval or certification on such grounds as may be provided in its regulations or if the postsecondary school:

1. Submits or has submitted any false or misleading information to the Council in connection with its approval;

2. Fails to meet or to maintain compliance with the Council's regulations at any of its locations;

3. Publicly makes or causes to be made any false or misleading representation that it has complied with any requirement of this article or the Council's regulations;

4. Violates any provision of this article or the Council's regulations; or

5. Fails or refuses to furnish the Council with any requested information or records required by this article or the Council's regulations.

B. The Council may refuse to grant an approval or may place conditions on an approval for a request to use a name that incorporates terms deemed by the Council to be misleading to consumers, students, or the general public regarding the postsecondary school's affiliation or association with any public institution of higher education but shall not add conditions to, revoke, or suspend a prior approval of a name. The Council shall, by regulation, designate the terms deemed to be misleading, which shall include "public university," "public college," and "community college."

C. The Council shall notify a postsecondary school by certified mail, return receipt requested, of its intention to deny an application, suspend or revoke a prior approval or certification, or add conditions to an approval or certification and state in writing the reasons for the denial, suspension, revocation, or conditions. The postsecondary school may, within 10 days of receipt of the certified mail notice, submit a written request for a proceeding before the Council pursuant to Article 3 (§ 2.2-4018 et seq.) of Chapter 40 of Title 2.2.

D. The Council may issue orders to comply with its regulations or the provisions of this article; unless an emergency exists, such orders shall only be issued after a proceeding pursuant to Article 3 (§ 2.2-4018 et seq.) of Chapter 40 of Title 2.2.

E. In accordance with Article 3 (§ 2.2-4018 et seq.) of Chapter 40 of Title 2.2, any postsecondary school aggrieved by (i) a decision of the Council to deny an application, suspend or revoke a prior approval or certification, or add conditions to an approval or certification or (ii) any order to comply with this article or the Council's regulations may appeal such decision. The Council shall make a final administrative decision on such appeal in accordance with the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.).

F. In order to regain approval, a postsecondary school that has had its approval or certification revoked or suspended by the Council shall file a new application for certification and provide clear and convincing evidence that the conditions resulting in the suspension or revocation have been remedied and the postsecondary school is in compliance with this article and the Council's regulations.

Code 1950, § 23-271; 1980, c. 658; 1996, cc. 691, 832; 2002, c. 178, § 23-276.6; 2003, c. 461; 2004, c. 991; 2005, c. 447; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-222. Emergency actions.

A. The Council may, by regulation, authorize its director to take immediate action on its behalf in any instance in which a postsecondary school holding certification to operate in the Commonwealth is the subject of an adverse action by the U.S. Department of Education or the postsecondary school's accrediting agency. When such adverse action threatens a disruption of the operation of the postsecondary school and exposes students to a loss of course or degree credit or financial loss, the director may:

1. Suspend new enrollment in specified programs or degree levels or all programs and degree levels that have been approved by the Council;

2. Require the postsecondary school to provide a guaranty instrument in the amount necessary to cover the refund of unearned tuition to all students enrolled at the time of the action; or

3. Take such other actions as may be necessary to protect the rights of currently enrolled or future students.

B. At its next regularly scheduled meeting, the Council shall either ratify the director's action or take such other actions as it deems necessary.

2002, c. 178, § 23-276.7; 2005, c. 447; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-223. Preservation of students' records.

A. In the event of school closure or revocation of its approval or certification, the postsecondary school shall (i) make arrangements for the transfer of the academic and financial records of all students to the Council within 30 days of the closure or (ii) with the approval of the Council, ensure preservation of the academic and financial records of all students by entering into an agreement with another postsecondary school. An out-of-state postsecondary school that is public or corporately held may retain records at the postsecondary school's location outside of the Commonwealth but shall provide the Council with the contact information needed for each student to obtain copies of his academic and financial records.

B. This section shall not be deemed to interfere with students' rights to have access to and obtain copies of their own records or to authorize disclosure of student records except in compliance with applicable state and federal law, including the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. § 1232g).

2002, c. 178, § 23-276.8; 2005, c. 447; 2013, c. 229; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-224. Fees.

The Council may establish nonrefundable fees for services and methods for collecting such fees.

2002, c. 178, § 23-276.9; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-225. Prohibited acts.

A. Without prior Council approval, no person or other entity subject to the provisions of this article shall use in any manner within the Commonwealth the term "college" or "university" or abbreviations or words of similar meaning in its name, in connection with its academic affairs or business, or in any literature, catalog, pamphlet, or descriptive material.

This subsection shall not apply to any person or other entity that (i) used the term "college" or "university" openly and conspicuously in its title within the Commonwealth prior to July 1, 1970; (ii) was granted authority to operate in the Commonwealth by the Council between July 1, 1970, and July 1, 2002, and maintains valid authority to so operate in the Commonwealth on or after July 1, 2002; (iii) was exempted from the provisions of former Chapter 21 (§ 23-265 et seq.) of Title 23, as such law was in effect prior to July 1, 2002; or (iv) was authorized by the Council to use a name while its request for approval to enroll students is pending before the Council.

B. No person or other entity shall sell, barter, or exchange for any consideration, or attempt to sell, barter, or exchange for any consideration, any degree credit, degree, or certificate.

C. No person or other entity shall:

1. Use or attempt to use, in connection with any business, trade, profession, or occupation, any degree credit, degree, or certificate, including any transcript of coursework that it knows or has reason to know has been fraudulently issued, obtained, forged, materially altered, or purchased;

2. Issue or manufacture a fraudulent academic credential;

3. Physically present a fraudulent academic credential, knowing it is fraudulent, in an attempt to obtain employment, promotion, licensure, or admission to an institution of higher education;

4. In any way represent that it is an institution of higher education that is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or has the foreign equivalent of such accreditation if the person or entity is not so accredited; or

5. Represent that credits earned at or granted by any institution of higher education or academic-vocational non-college degree school may be applied for credit toward a degree unless such person is exempted from the provisions of this article or granted certification or approval by the Council in accordance with this article and the Council's regulations.

Code 1950, § 23-272; 1980, c. 658; 2002, c. 178, § 23-276.10; 2004, c. 991; 2008, c. 856; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-226. Exemptions.

A. The provisions of this article shall not apply to any public institution of higher education as that term is defined in § 23.1-100 or any entity authorized to issue bonds pursuant to Chapter 11 (§ 23.1-1100 et seq.).

B. The following activities or programs offered by postsecondary schools that are otherwise subject to this article are exempt from its provisions:

1. The awarding of any honorary degree conferred that clearly states on its face that it is honorary in nature and is regarded as (i) commemorative in recognition of an individual's contributions to society and (ii) not representative of the satisfactory completion of any or all of the requirements of a program or course of study;

2. A nursing education program or curriculum regulated by the Board of Nursing;

3. A professional or occupational training program subject to the approval of (i) a regulatory board pursuant to Title 54.1 or (ii) another state or federal governmental agency;

4. Any course or program of instruction provided or approved by any professional body, fraternal organization, civic club, or benevolent order for which the principal purpose is continuing or professional education or a similar purpose and for which no degree credit is awarded;

5. Any course or program offered through approved multistate compacts, including the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus;

6. Any course offered and delivered by a postsecondary school solely on a contractual basis for which no individual is charged tuition and there is no advertising for open enrollment;

7. Any school, institute, or course of instruction offered by any trade association or any nonprofit affiliate of a trade association on subjects relating to the trade, business, or profession represented by such association;

8. Any public or private high school accredited or recognized by the Board of Education that has offered or may offer one or more courses as provided in this article, if the school collects any tuition, fees, or charges as permitted by Title 22.1 in the case of a public school or pursuant to regulations prescribed by the relevant governing body in the case of a private school; or

9. Tutorial instruction delivered and designed to (i) supplement regular classes for students enrolled in any public or private school, (ii) prepare an individual for an examination for professional practice or higher education, or (iii) prepare an individual for an examination to demonstrate proficiency or to maintain proficiency in an occupational field.

C. The Council shall exempt from the provisions of this article any postsecondary school whose primary purpose is to provide religious or theological education. Postsecondary schools shall apply for exemptions to confer certificates or degrees relating to religion and theology. Exemptions may be granted for a maximum of five years, unless the postsecondary school has been granted a standing exemption prior to July 1, 2002. Each postsecondary school seeking such an exemption or continuation of such an exemption shall file such information as may be required by the Council. If the Council does not grant a postsecondary school an exemption, the postsecondary school shall be notified in writing with the reasons for the exemption denial. The affected postsecondary school has the right to appeal the Council's decision pursuant to Article 3 (§ 2.2-4018 et seq.) of Chapter 40 of Title 2.2. The Council shall, in each instance, determine the applicability of the exemption as provided in this section.

D. Notwithstanding the exemptions provided in this section, exempted postsecondary schools are subject to the provisions of subsection B of § 23.1-221 and a postsecondary school may seek Council approval for an otherwise exempt activity or program.

Code 1950, § 23-266; 1980, c. 658; 1991, c. 590; 1996, cc. 691, 832; 1999, cc. 458, 499; 2002, c. 178, § 23-276.2; 2003, c. 461; 2004, cc. 671, 991; 2005, c. 447; 2016, c. 588; 2019, c. 599.

§ 23.1-227. Laws of the Commonwealth to apply to contracts.

The laws of the Commonwealth shall govern any agreement, contract, or instrument of indebtedness executed between a postsecondary school and any person who enrolls in any course or program offered or to be offered by such school in the Commonwealth or any person who is employed or offered employment by such school in the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 23-276; 1980, c. 658; 2002, c. 178, § 23-276.11; 2004, c. 991; 2005, c. 447; 2016, c. 588; 2017, c. 314.

§ 23.1-228. Violations; penalties; remedies.

A. Violations of this article or the Council's implementing regulations are punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Each degree, certificate, program, academic transcript, or course of study offered, conferred, or used in violation of this article or the Council's regulations shall constitute a separate offense.

B. If no criminal prosecution is instituted against such postsecondary school pursuant to subsection A, the Council may recover a civil penalty of at least $200 but not more than $1,000 per separate offense set forth in subsection A. In no event shall the civil penalties against any one person, corporation, or other entity exceed $25,000 per year.

C. The Council may institute a proceeding in equity to enjoin any violation of this article or its implementing regulations and upon substantially prevailing on the merits of the case and unless special circumstances would render such an award unjust, the Council is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs in any such action.

Code 1950, § 23-273; 1980, c. 658; 2002, c. 178, § 23-276.12; 2006, c. 48; 2008, c. 856; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-229. Postsecondary school closure procedures.

A. Each postsecondary school shall notify the Council of its intention to close at least 30 days prior to the closure. The notice shall be accompanied by a comprehensive plan for closure and a teachout plan that makes provision for presently enrolled students to complete the program of instruction for which they have enrolled, either at such postsecondary school or at another postsecondary school certified by the Council or authorized to operate in the Commonwealth. Each closing postsecondary school shall obtain the Council's approval of the teachout plan prior to implementation.

B. Each closing postsecondary school shall notify the Council, in writing, if there is no comparable program for the purposes of developing a teachout plan within 50 miles of the closing postsecondary school or if the closing postsecondary school is unable to enter a teachout agreement with another postsecondary school. This information shall be provided at the time the closing postsecondary school notifies the Council of its intention to close.

C. Owners or senior administrators of a postsecondary school that closes without providing (i) an adequate teachout plan or refunds of unearned tuition and (ii) appropriate preservation of records shall be denied certification to operate another postsecondary school in the Commonwealth.

2013, c. 229, § 23-276.16; 2016, c. 588.

§ 23.1-230. Enrollment agreements required.

A. No postsecondary school that is required to be certified by the Council shall enroll students without entering into an enrollment agreement with each student. Such enrollment agreement shall be signed by the student and an authorized representative of the school and shall contain all disclosures prescribed by the Council.

B. No postsecondary school that is required to be certified by the Council shall condition the enrollment of a student on:

1. Entering into an agreement that requires the student to arbitrate any dispute between the student and the school, regardless of whether the agreement permits the student to opt out of the requirement to arbitrate any such dispute in the future; or

2. Entering into an agreement that requires the student to resolve a dispute on an individual basis and waive the right to class or group actions.

2017, c. 298; 2020, c. 1135.

Article 4. Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman.

§ 23.1-231. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Qualified education loan" means any qualified education loan obtained specifically to finance education or other school-related expenses. "Qualified education loan" does not include credit card debt, home equity loan, or revolving debt.

"Qualified education loan borrower" means (i) any current resident of the Commonwealth who has received or agreed to pay a qualified education loan or (ii) any person who shares responsibility with such resident for repaying the qualified education loan.

"Qualified education loan servicer" or "loan servicer" means any person, wherever located, responsible for the servicing of any qualified education loan to any qualified education loan borrower.

"Servicing" means (i) receiving any scheduled periodic payments from a qualified education loan borrower pursuant to the terms of a qualified education loan; (ii) applying the payments of principal and interest and such other payments, with respect to the amounts received from a qualified education loan borrower, as may be required pursuant to the terms of a qualified education loan; and (iii) performing other administrative services with respect to a qualified education loan.

2018, cc. 489, 755.

§ 23.1-232. Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman established; duties.

A. The Council shall create within the agency the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman. The Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman shall provide timely assistance to any qualified education loan borrower of any qualified education loan in the Commonwealth. All state agencies shall assist and cooperate with the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman in the performance of its duties under this article.

B. The Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman shall:

1. Receive, review, and attempt to resolve any complaints from qualified education loan borrowers, including attempts to resolve such complaints in collaboration with institutions of higher education, qualified education loan servicers, and any other participants in qualified education loan lending;

2. Compile and analyze data on qualified education loan borrower complaints as described in subdivision 1;

3. Assist qualified education loan borrowers to understand their rights and responsibilities under the terms of qualified education loans;

4. Provide information to the public, state agencies, legislators, and other persons regarding the problems and concerns of qualified education loan borrowers and make recommendations for resolving those problems and concerns;

5. Analyze and monitor the development and implementation of federal and state laws and policies relating to qualified education loan borrowers and recommend any changes the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman deems necessary;

6. Review the complete qualified education loan history of any qualified education loan borrower who has provided written consent for such review;

7. Disseminate information concerning the availability of the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman to assist qualified education loan borrowers and potential qualified education loan borrowers, as well as public institutions of higher education, qualified education loan servicers, and any other participant in qualified education loan lending, with any qualified education loan servicing concerns; and

8. Take any other actions necessary to fulfill the duties of the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman as set forth in this article.

2018, cc. 489, 755.

§ 23.1-233. Qualified education loan borrower education course.

On or before December 1, 2019, the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman, in consultation with the Council, shall establish and maintain a qualified education loan borrower education course that shall include educational presentations and materials regarding qualified education loans. Topics covered by the course shall include, but shall not be limited to, key loan terms, documentation requirements, monthly payment obligations, income-driven repayment options, loan forgiveness programs, and disclosure requirements. The course shall be web-based and available to the public at any time. The Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman may also establish in-person classes.

2018, cc. 489, 755.

§ 23.1-233.1. Qualified education loans; certain providers; contact information and summary.

Any provider of private education loans, as defined in 12 C.F.R. § 1026.46(b)(5), shall disclose to any student attending an institution of higher education in the Commonwealth, prior to issuing a qualified education loan to such student, the contact information for the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman and a summary of the student loan information applicable to private education loans that may be found on the Council's website. Any such disclosure may be made in conjunction with or incorporated into another disclosure to such student prior to issuing the qualified education loan. The summary shall be developed by the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

2020, c. 436.

§ 23.1-234. Reports.

On or before January 1, 2019, and annually thereafter, the Council shall submit a report to the House Committees on Labor and Commerce and on Education and the Senate Committees on Commerce and Labor and Education and Health. The report shall address (i) the implementation of this article and (ii) the overall effectiveness of the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman.

2018, cc. 489, 755.