BILL REQ. #: H-3582.1
|State of Washington||59th Legislature||2006 Regular Session|
Read first time 01/10/2006. Referred to Committee on Higher Education & Workforce Education.
AN ACT Relating to degree-granting institutions of higher education; amending RCW 28B.85.010, 28B.85.020, and 28B.85.040; adding a new section to chapter 28B.85 RCW; prescribing penalties; and providing an effective date.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1 RCW 28B.85.010 and 1986 c 136 s 1 are each amended to read
Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter:
(1) "Accredited" means accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States department of education.
(2) "Board" means the higher education coordinating board.
(2))) (3) "Degree" means any designation, appellation, letters,
or words including but not limited to "associate," "bachelor,"
"master," "doctor," or "fellow" which signify or purport to signify
satisfactory completion of the requirements of an academic program of
study beyond the secondary school level.
(3))) (4) "Degree-granting institution" means an entity that
offers educational credentials, instruction, or services prerequisite
to or indicative of an academic or professional degree beyond the
(5) "Grant" means award, bestow, confer, convey, sell, or give.
(6) "Offer," in addition to its usual meanings, means advertise, publicize, or solicit.
(7) "Operate" includes but is not limited to the following:
(a) Offering courses in person, by correspondence, or by electronic media at or to any Washington location for degree credit;
(b) Granting or offering to grant degrees in Washington;
(c) Maintaining or advertising a Washington location, mailing address, computer server, or telephone number, for any purpose, other than for contact with the institution's former students for any legitimate purpose related to the students having attended the institution.
Sec. 2 RCW 28B.85.020 and 2005 c 274 s 246 are each amended to
read as follows:
(1) The board:
(a) Shall adopt by rule, in accordance with chapter 34.05 RCW, minimum standards for degree-granting institutions concerning granting of degrees, quality of education, unfair business practices, financial stability, and other necessary measures to protect citizens of this state against substandard, fraudulent, or deceptive practices. The rules ((
may)) shall require that an institution operating in
(i) Be accredited ((
or be making progress toward accreditation by
an accrediting agency recognized by the United States department of
education. The board shall adopt the rules in accordance with chapter
(ii) Have applied for accreditation and such application is pending before the accrediting agency; or
(iii) Have been granted a waiver by the board waiving the requirement of accreditation;
(b) May investigate any entity the board reasonably believes to be subject to the jurisdiction of this chapter. In connection with the investigation, the board may administer oaths and affirmations, issue subpoenas and compel attendance, take evidence, and require the production of any books, papers, correspondence, memorandums, or other records which the board deems relevant or material to the investigation. The board, including its staff and any other authorized persons, may conduct site inspections, the cost of which shall be borne by the institution, and examine records of all institutions subject to this chapter;
(c) Shall develop an interagency agreement with the work force training and education coordinating board to regulate degree-granting private vocational schools with respect to degree and nondegree programs; and
(d) Shall develop and disseminate information to the public about entities that sell or award degrees without requiring appropriate academic achievement at the postsecondary level, including but not limited to, a description of the substandard and potentially fraudulent practices of these entities, and advice about how the public can recognize and avoid the entities. To the extent feasible, the information shall include links to additional resources that may assist the public in identifying specific institutions offering substandard or fraudulent degree programs.
(2) Financial disclosures provided to the board by degree-granting private vocational schools are not subject to public disclosure under chapter 42.56 RCW.
Sec. 3 RCW 28B.85.040 and 2004 c 96 s 2 are each amended to read
An institution or person shall not advertise, offer, sell, or
award a degree or any other type of educational credential unless the
student has enrolled in and successfully completed a prescribed program
of study, as outlined in the institution's publications. This
prohibition shall not apply to honorary credentials clearly designated
as such on the front side of the diploma or certificate and awarded by
institutions offering other educational credentials in compliance with
state law)) No person may knowingly offer or grant a false or
misleading degree or other document that purports to confer a degree
that is false or misleading.
(a) For purposes of this subsection, a degree or other document that purports to confer a degree is false or misleading if it states or suggests that the person named in the degree or document has completed the requirements of an academic or professional program of study in a particular field beyond the secondary level, but the person in fact has not completed the requirements of such a program of study.
(b) Any person or entity that willfully violates this subsection is subject to a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars for each violation. The penalty may be imposed by the board or by any court of competent jurisdiction.
(2) No exemption or waiver granted under this chapter is permanent. The board shall periodically review exempted degree-granting institutions and degree-granting institutions granted a waiver, and continue exemptions or waivers only if an institution meets the statutory or board requirements for exemption or waiver in effect on the date of the review.
(3) Except as provided in subsection (1) of this section, this chapter shall not apply to:
(a) Any public college, university, community college, technical college, or institute operating as part of the public higher educational system of this state;
(b) Institutions that have been accredited by an accrediting association recognized by the agency for the purposes of this chapter: PROVIDED, That those institutions meet minimum exemption standards adopted by the agency; and PROVIDED FURTHER, That an institution, branch, extension, or facility operating within the state of Washington which is affiliated with an institution operating in another state must be a separately accredited member institution of any such accrediting association to qualify for this exemption;
(c) Institutions of a religious character, but only as to those education programs devoted exclusively to religious or theological objectives if the programs are represented in an accurate manner in institutional catalogs and other official publications;
(d) Honorary credentials clearly designated as such on the front side of the diploma or certificate awarded by institutions offering other educational credentials in compliance with state law; or
(e) Institutions not otherwise exempt which offer only workshops or seminars and institutions offering only credit-bearing workshops or seminars lasting no longer than three calendar days.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 4 A new section is added to chapter 28B.85 RCW
to read as follows:
(1) Unless the person clearly specifies in writing that the degree was awarded or conferred by an institution not authorized by the board or accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States department of education, no person may in writing claim or represent to have a degree or other document that purports to evidence participation in or completion of courses or a program of study if the degree or document was not issued by:
(a) An accredited degree-granting institution;
(b) An entity authorized as a degree-granting institution by the board;
(c) An entity exempt from the requirement of authorization as a degree-granting institution by the board;
(d) An entity that has been granted a waiver by the board from the requirement of authorization by the board; or
(e) A foreign degree-granting institution, as defined by chapter 28B.90 RCW.
(2) Any person or entity that willfully violates this section is subject to a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars for each violation. The penalty may be imposed by the board or by any court of competent jurisdiction.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 5 If any provision of this act or its
application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the
remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other
persons or circumstances is not affected.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6 This act takes effect July 1, 2006.