The licensing of nonpublic post-secondary educational institutions to conduct degree activity in North Carolina has long been a legal requirement. From 1923 to 1963 the responsibility for licensure was a function of the State Board of Education. In 1963, the authority was transferred to the State Board of Higher Education. In 1972, the General Assembly dissolved that agency and assigned the responsibility to the newly created Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina.
In carrying out its licensing and exemption from licensure responsibilities, the Board has clear statutory directions. With regard to licensing, the statutes specify that 15 minimum standards must be met by nonpublic institutions in such critical areas as curricula, faculty, library, and financial stability. Further, the Board is statutorily empowered to establish such policies and procedures as it considers necessary for carrying out its duties. (See Rules and Standards)
The licensing and exemption from licensure functions of the UNC Board of Governors constitutes an important consumer protection activity. The Board in effect acts as a quality “Gatekeeper” by opening the gate to nonpublic institutions meeting minimum standards or found exempt from licensure. Licensure, by substantiating minimum educational quality in consonance with State law making unlawful any “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce,” protects many constituencies. They include students, employers, and taxpayers in general. Licensure is the first requirement for accreditation of institutions and their participation in various programs of the U.S. Office of Education and Federal student financial aid agencies. On the other hand, the door does not open for institutions unable to meet the standards or eligibility for exemption. Once institutions are authorized to conduct degree activity, the Board on a continuing basis assures their maintenance of standards and policies through follow-up site visits and inquiries by staff.
If the President determines that an institution has failed to seek licensure or exemption from licensure as statutorily required or failed to fulfill any obligation attendant to licensure or exemption, the President may request that the State Attorney General take appropriate action.