The process for licensing is an extensive one. It begins with the chief executive officer or designee of a prospective applicant institution requesting a preliminary conference with UNC General Administration staff to review the standards and procedures for applying for licensure.
If a potential applicant institution concludes that it meets the standards, the chief executive officer submits to UNC General Administration, a letter of formal application accompanied by documentation that the institution complies with and is capable of maintaining standards for an extended period sufficient for a student to complete his/her program of study.
Staff review the application and documentation and then visit the main campus of the applicant institution, as well as any other proposed degree activity sites. Each site must meet licensure requirements on a stand-alone basis.
The purpose of the team visit is to confirm that documentation submitted by the institution meets the 15 minimum standards and other requirements of the Board. The standards devote considerable attention to adequacy of the proposed programs of study, methods of instructional delivery, faculty, library, facilities, and financial condition.
The team of examiners is composed of staff (ex-officio); faculty members representative of public and private sectors, with appropriate levels and fields of expertise; administrators; and other specialty persons necessary for a sound examination. One member is appointed chairperson with responsibility for leading the examination and preparing the team’s report of its findings and recommendations.
Costs connected with the examination and subsequent visits are paid by the institution. Visits usually are two days in duration depending on sites visited. On completion of a visit, the team submits its report and recommendations. The concluding recommendation is one of the following: (1) issue a license, (2) issue license subject to completion of conditions, or (3) deny licensure. All recommendations are advisory to the UNC President, who recommends final action to the Board of Governors. (Usually institutions withdraw their application for licensure if denial is anticipated, which accounts for few denials going before the Board.)
Once licensed, an institution is subject to review visits at any time to determine whether the institution continues to meet standards. Review shall always occur: (1) two years after licensure, (2) if the institution is legally reconstituted, or (3) if ownership changes.
Each licensed institution submits an annual report to staff concerning matters such as enrollment, financial stability, prepaid tuition bond updating, and compliance with maintenance of all standards.
Process for Exemption from Licensure
The process of exempting an institution from licensure is based on the statute that authorizes its eligibility for exemption.
If the exemption is based on having continuously conducted degree activity since July 1, 1972 [G.S. 116-15(c)], the institution submits information acceptable to staff to substantiate its eligibility to conduct the activity. Staff files contain such information on 37 nonpublic institutions in North Carolina, dating back to the 1800s.
If exemption rests on conducting degree activity at a military base in North Carolina [G.S. 116-15(e)], the institution responds to staff annual inquiry concerning its enrollment, base personnel, degree programs offered, and identification of students enrolled other than military personnel on active duty at the base, their dependents, and employees of the military. If the institution offers degree activity for other persons, it is subject to licensure.
If the exemption is based on conducting degree program activity relative to religious education [G.S. 116-15(d)], the institution demonstrates to the satisfaction of the UNC President on recommendation of staff that it should be exempt from licensure. Staff base their recommendation on examination of an application containing relevant documentation in determining whether the nature and intent of programs warrant exemption. On September 12, 1997, the Board adopted further revisions to its policies by emphasizing the importance of institutions displaying full degree titles and disclosures in all advertising and literature that their exemption from licensure represents no assessment of program quality as does licensure.
Staff makes an annual inquiry of institutions concerning their continuation of adherence to the bases upon which their exemption was conferred. Exemption from licensure continues for institutions unless it is suspended or revoked by the President on recommendation of staff.