In continuation of my previous blog post in this series, below I will be discussing several key sections of the Application for Approval to Operate a Non-Accredited Institution.
Without further ado, let’s start by exploring the ins and outs of Section 13:
SECTION 13. DESCRIPTION OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM (5 C.C.R. Section 71220)
In this section, you will submit full curricula for all of the academic programs that you plan to offer at your post-secondary institution. It’s absolutely crucial to provide each of the items below required by the Bureau:
- Each program’s title and description.
- Each program’s learning outcomes.
- Each program’s graduation requirements, credit hours, as well as names and codes of all courses.
- All equipment that is to be used during the duration of each program.
- The number and qualifications of your faculty that will need to teach every program.
- A projection of the number of students your institution plans to enroll in each of your programs for the next three years after the application is submitted. Make sure to also include the bases for your projections.
- A copy of the approval from an appropriate licensing agency in case licensure is the goal of your academic program(s). Alternatively, you can submit a copy of the intent to approve conditioned upon institutional approval from BPPE. For instance, if your university offers a nursing degree, the Bureau would want to see proof of a submitted application for a program approval to the Board of Nursing in California.
- The syllabus for each course offered as part of your academic programs. You’ll notice that the application doesn’t require submitting the syllabus at this stage, however, I personally always make sure to include this document to speed up the process.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that a majority of my clients tend to forget to include the basis for student projections in the application (I’ve written about this above under one of the listed bullet points).
Needless to say, this is a crucial document that must be included. The Bureau must see that your projections are accurate to avoid the risk of starting your college or university just to shut it down later on due to failure to enroll enough students.
Some examples of a basis for projection are stats, demographic data, market demands for certain professions, and other trends and resources. You must be able to explain where you’ve got your information from and how reliable your sources are.
Section 15. FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND STATEMENTS (5 C.C.R. Section 71240)
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “how much money is enough to get the BPPE approval?” The answer to this depends on various factors. It mainly depends on how much you’re planning to spend, the tuition fees you will be charging your students, and how soon you’re estimating to break even.
All of this goes into your business plan. Having one is an absolute must if you ask me, even if the application doesn’t require it. I can’t think of any successful academic institution that didn’t have a well-prepared business plan during its startup.
When it comes to financial resources, the Bureau is looking for a set of conditions that follow the California Education Code, Section 71745.
Your university or college must document that it has enough resources and assets at all times to perform all of the following:
- Provide all educational programs that you’ve pledged to provide to students.
- Ensure that your students have reasonable opportunities to complete your academic programs and obtain diplomas or degrees.
- Maintain the minimum standards required by the Act.
- Pay refunds promptly, as required by the Act (Article 13).
- Pay all of your operating expenses within 30 days.
- By the end of the fiscal year, you have to ensure a ratio of current assets to current liabilities to be a minimum of 1.25 to 1.00 or greater.
You’re expected to provide proof of all the aforementioned points by submitting CPA-audited financial statements.
Section 16. FACULTY (5 C.C.R. Section 71250)
Another set of questions I get mostly asked is “how many faculty members are enough to have?”, or “do faculty staff have to be hired before the approval to operate has been received?” I also get asked a lot about the specific qualifications faculty should have, including whether it’s okay if some faculty members have studied outside the United States.
I’ve dedicated a whole blog post to the topic of hiring faculty, where I have addressed these and a lot of other questions. Take a read here if you haven’t already.
To briefly cover the questions above, you need to have at least 2 faculty members for each of your offered courses. Each of your faculty members can further teach about five courses in a field that’s directly related to their field of study.
In terms of the qualifications, the general rule of thumb is that a faculty member must teach at a level below their highest level of studies. What does this mean? To give you an example, to teach a Bachelor's degree, your faculty member must at least have a Master’s degree in a related field, and so on.
Get in touch with me to inquire how we help clients hire the right faculty members for their institutions.
Section 17. FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT (C.C.R. Section 71260)
In this section, you will be asked to describe the facilities and equipment available for use by your students for each program offered. This includes the main, branch and satellite locations of your university or college.
If you’re planning to teach online, the BPPE regulations have recently been updated with detailed requirements for e-learning (Learning Management System). Check them out here.
The Learning Management System is a crucial component in the success of a hybrid or online educational program. The BPPE will hence request an administrative username and password to login into your system, and further, evaluate if it’s meeting the Bureau’s established regulations.
The Bureau will also schedule an online demo with your LMS admin team to ask questions that will allow them to determine whether your students are getting the best online learning experience using your LM system.
A piece of advice: it’s a good idea to use an established and trusted learning management system like Canvas, Moodle or Blackboard.
Section 20. COPY OF CATALOG (5 C.C.R. Section 71290)
Make sure to include a copy of your university’s catalog with the application. This document is one of the most important publications you will possess, which is why I’ve dedicated a whole blog post to discuss it. Take a read here.
In short, your university catalog informs existing students about their privileges and responsibilities, in addition to providing them with the key policies critical for their academic success at your institution. For BPPE license purposes, follow the checklist for the catalog here.
Your BPPE application process will likely be long and overwhelming, so starting to prepare ahead of time is a good idea. As you wait for your approval, start prepping for the next crucial step - accreditation. Remember: the sooner you start your accreditation process, the faster and easier it will be to get approved.
Use all resources available to you to help you in these processes, but don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do it all alone. Use your faculty team to review the existing curricula, and seek the help of your administration staff to prepare important policies. Working as a team is key to your success!
I hope these blog post series were of benefit to you. If you need help to open your university or college in the USA, get in touch with me today.