Postsecondary schools certified to operate in Virginia fall into a variety of categories: nonprofit or proprietary; degree-granting or non-degree, vocational; and in-state or out-of-state. Postsecondary schools in Virginia may be large, serving thousands of students and providing instruction in a multitude of areas, or small schools providing vocational training in specific areas like massage therapy or dental assisting. These private universities, colleges, career colleges and vocational schools provide educational instruction to more than 40,000 residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia on a full-time or part-time basis annually.
Virginia residents who attend schools certified by SCHEV have certain protections according to Virginia’s laws and regulations. These provisions include:
- Ensuring Quality: Assurance that postsecondary schools certified to operate in Virginia meet minimum academic and administrative capability standards.
- Student Complaints: Guarantee that SCHEV staff will investigate and respond to student complaints about certified institutions.
- Transfer of Credits: Assurance that credits earned at out-of-state postsecondary institutions with a physical presence in Virginia will transfer to the school’s principal location or another branch campus as part of an existing degree, certificate or diploma program offered by the school.
- Student Transcripts: Retention of student academic records from closed postsecondary institutions.
- Student Tuition Guaranty Fund (STGF): Administration of refunds of unearned tuition to students impacted by the closure of a school certified to operate in Virginia.
Certification Standards for Schools
Certified schools are required to meet minimum standards designed to protect students and their investments in higher education. Those standards include, but are not limited to:
- Faculty must possess appropriate credentials in the discipline being taught.
- Elective and required courses are offered in a schedule and in a sequence that enables both full-time and part-time students to complete the program in a reasonable period of time.
- Institutions have a continual curriculum development plan, ensuring programs offered are relevant to the current employment market and which measures the school’s effectiveness in adequately preparing students to gainfully enter the workforce upon graduation.
- Assurance that courses offered conform to state, federal, trade or manufacturing standards of training for those occupational fields in which established standards exist.
- Availability of student completion/graduation information, as well as placement information for certain institutions, upon request.
- Availability of policy documents that define the minimum requirements for admission, as well as describe the school’s transfer policy, refund policy, students’ rights and responsibilities, and the grievance policy.
- Disclosure of information related to financial aid programs, school accreditation status, requirements for satisfactory program completion, and tuition, fees and other related charges.
- School maintains records that demonstrate that it is financially sound, exercises proper management, financial controls and business practices, and can fulfill its commitments to education or training.
- Faculty are accessible to students for academic or course advising at times outside of the course’s regularly scheduled class hours.
- Access to a library with a collection, staff, services, equipment and facilities that are adequate and appropriate for the purpose and enrollment of the school.