University of Wisconsin System Administration
Program Integrity Requirements
Summary of Program Integrity Rules: The United States Department of Education has issued regulations titled “Program Integrity Rule” which are intended to address concerns relating to the integrity of programs offered by postsecondary educational institutions and authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA), as amended. The applicable section of the regulations, 34 CFR Part 600.9, requires the State of Wisconsin to establish a complaint process in order to receive, review and respond to complaints against colleges and universities offering postsecondary education that meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Complaints that allege a violation of state consumer protection laws that include but are not limited to fraud and false advertising;
- Complaints that allege a violation of state law or rule relating to the licensure of postsecondary institutions; and/or
- Complaints relating to the quality of education or other State or accreditation requirements.
Establishing a Complaint Process for Program Integrity: Pursuant to an Executive Order issued by Governor Scott Walker on June 28, 2011, the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and/or the University of Wisconsin System Administration are authorized to handle complaints relating to program integrity as described above and involve one or more of the University of Wisconsin System’s public institutions.
Accreditation Agency: Pursuant to Wis. Stats. Ch. 36, the University of Wisconsin System’s public institutions are legally authorized to provide postsecondary education in the State of Wisconsin and are accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (“HLC”). The following public institutions are under the authority and control of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System:
University of Wisconsin-Madison; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; University of Wisconsin-Green Bay; University of Wisconsin-La Crosse; University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh; University of Wisconsin-Parkside; University of Wisconsin-Platteville; University of Wisconsin-River Falls; University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; University of Wisconsin-Stout; University of Wisconsin-Superior; University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; and the University of Wisconsin-Colleges located at Baraboo/Sauk County, Barron County, Fond du Lac, Fox Valley, Manitowoc, Marathon County, Marinette, Marshfield/Wood County, Richland, Rock County, Sheboygan, Washington County, and Waukesha.
The University of Wisconsin’s accreditation documents are available through the Higher Learning Commission on its webpage: http://www.ncahlc.org/.
Complaint Review Process:
I. How to File a Complaint Relating to Program Integrity: Any individual who reasonably believes that a violation of one or more of the Program Integrity criteria has occurred may file a written complaint with the University of Wisconsin System Administration in the following manner:
- Within one (1) calendar year from the date of the alleged violation or the last recorded date of the affected student’s attendance at the affected institution, whichever is later, the individual (“complainant”) shall submit a written statement to the University of Wisconsin System Administration - Office of Academic Affairs (“OAA”) which summarizes the alleged violation of the institution and/or its representatives. This statement shall include, at minimum, a detailed statement of the nature of the incident(s) in question, any monies owed or balances dues to the institution, names and titles of faculty, staff or students who are involved in the incident(s), documentation of records relating to the complaint and any other documentation that may assist in the OAA’s factual determination of the merits of the complaint. The complainant shall also state what, if any, remedy is sought. The complainant shall sign a form or issue a written statement attesting to the truth and accuracy of the complaint. The OAA shall provide the affected institution with a copy of the complaint within 15 business days of its receipt.
- The complainant shall sign a form or issue a written statement indicating that the complainant consents to the OAA and/or the institution’s disclosure of any protected or confidential information that may pertain to the complaint for the purpose of review, investigation and/or resolution of this matter.
- The complainant shall agree to be available for additional information and/or questions from the OAA in order to properly review the complaint. If the complainant fails to provide requested information to the OAA as a part of this process, the OAA may unilaterally dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the complainant has refused to willingly participate in the complaint review process.
- If the complainant has filed an external complaint or grievance with an external state agency prior or during the filing of a complaint under this review process, the complainant shall notify the OAA in order to avoid a duplication of the investigative process regarding a same or similar complaint with another state agency.
- Anonymous complaints shall not be considered valid complaints under this complaint review process and should be referred back to the affected institution for further consideration in accordance with campus policies and procedures.
II. Review Procedures: Upon receipt of a timely-filed complaint that falls within one or more of the categories above, the OAA shall do the following:
- No later than 30 calendar days from the receipt of the complaint, the OAA shall conduct an initial review of the allegations contained in the complaint in order to determine whether the complaint meets the category requirements above and is timely. If the complaint fails to meet the criteria, the OAA may dismiss the complaint and no further action shall be required.
- No later than 30 days after determining that the complaint meets the necessary criteria under program integrity and is timely, the OAA shall provide the complainant and the institution with the opportunity to meet in order to reach an informal resolution that is mutually-acceptable to the complaint and the institution.
- If no informal resolution is reached, then the OAA shall conduct a review and/or investigation into the allegations. This review or investigative process shall be completed within a 90 calendar day period, unless additional time is necessary to properly complete the review or investigation process. The OAA may conduct a fact-finding during which the complainant and the institution shall be offered an opportunity to submit any relevant and material evidence and information in support their respective positions. Either party may request the presence of a representative during a meeting and/or investigatory interview of the respective party. However, the parties shall be required to speak on their own behalf at all times during this complaint review process. The parties shall be expected to fully cooperate in this review or investigative process. Failure to do so may lead to dismissal of the complaint in its entirety or referral of the complaint to an external state agency for further consideration and review.
- No later than 60 calendar days from the conclusion of the review and/or investigative process, the OAA shall issue a written report to the President of the University of Wisconsin System Administration, the Senior Vice President of the Office of Academic Affairs or his/her designee which summarizes the OAA’s findings, conclusions and recommendations in regard to the allegations contained in the complaint.
- Upon receipt of the OAA’s summary of its findings, the President, Senior Vice President of the Office of Academic Affairs or his/her designee shall issue his or her written decision to the complaint and the institution with a copy to the OAA within 45 calendar days, unless additional time is necessary and warranted. The decision may include one or more of the following determinations:
- That there was insufficient evidence to find that a violation of one or more of the program integrity rule criteria occurred;
- That the complaint is dismissed due to lack of cooperation or participation on the part of the complainant, untimely filing or fails to fall within one or more of the required program integrity rule criteria;
- A recommended course of action for the institution to assure compliance with applicable laws or rules;
- A directive to the institution and/or any other remedy or resolution that is deemed appropriate and reasonable in response to the alleged violation;
- A referral of the complaint to another state agency with jurisdiction and authority over the issue; or
- Any other remedy or action that is deemed appropriate and reasonable.
- That there was insufficient evidence to find that a violation of one or more of the program integrity rule criteria occurred;
- The decision of the President, Senior Vice President of the Office of Academic Affairs or his/her designee shall be final and not subject to any further appeal or review by the Board of Regents or the University of Wisconsin System Administration. The complainant may pursue any further claim or complaint through applicable state or federal law.
III. Waiver and/or Consent to Disclosure of Records: The complainant shall provide a written consent and/or release to the OAA and/or the institution in order to allow the disclosure of any and all protected or confidential information that may pertain to the complaint in order to allow the OAA to conduct a proper review or investigation of the allegations contained in the complaint. The consent or release shall allow the OAA or the institution to disclose any educational records or other relevant information in order to assist in the review, investigation and resolution of the complaint. It should be noted that state law may also provide for the public disclosure of any existing record or document that is a part of the complaint review process under the Wisconsin Open Records Law, Wis. Stats. §19.31, unless specifically exempt from disclosure by law.
IV. Refer to Institution for Consideration of Complaint: If the individual has not notified the applicable institution of the alleged events that lead up to the complaint, the OAA may, at its discretion, refer the complaint back to the institution for further review and consideration under its applicable institutional policies and procedures. Upon the completion of the institution’s review, complaint or grievance process, if the complainant remains interested in pursuing his or her complaint under this complaint review process, the OAA shall initiate a review of the complaint pursuant to the review process herein.
V. Waiver of Institution Review Process: Upon receipt of a complaint or allegations that has not been reviewed by the institution as required above, the OAA may accept and review the complaint without institutional review upon the OAA’s determination that the nature of the allegation(s) and/or the impact on the system as a whole warrants an immediate review by the OAA through this complaint process.
VI. Complaint Filed with Other State Agencies: In the event that the OAA determines that the complaint does not fit within the program integrity criteria, is untimely or is dismissed on other grounds, the complainant may seek review and /or remedy from one or more of the state agencies below that have jurisdiction or authority over the alleged violation:
- The Division of Trade and Consumer Protection of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is prepared to receive and review student consumer complaints regarding alleged fraudulent or abusive practices by a college or university in the delivery of postsecondary academic programs and activities, including, for example, fraud or false advertising. Complaints may be filed with this agency in written or electronic form by accessing the following link:
- The Office of the Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin is authorized to investigate and prosecute violations of State consumer laws, including laws relating to deceptive advertising, credit, charitable solicitations, telecommunications, telemarketing and sales. The Office cooperates with other States, the Federal Trade Commission and other federal agencies in addressing national consumer protection issues. Further, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Office of Consumer protection litigates cases that are referred to the Department by other States agencies. Complaints may be filed with the Wisconsin Department of Justice Office of Consumer Protection at the following link:
- The Higher Learning Commission (“HLC”) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools is an independent body responsible for the accreditation of programs offered by University of Wisconsin System institutions. HLC relies on constant contact with the institutions to ensure quality higher learning. Accredited institutions are required to submit progress reports, monitoring reports, contingency reports, and annual reports, as well as to participate in focus visits. Each year, HLC receives a number of complaints from students or other parties. When a complaint raises issues regarding an institution’s ability to meet accreditation criteria, HLC will forward a copy of the complaint to the institution and request a formal response. Complaints may be filed with Higher Learning Commission at the following link:
- A variety of other state agencies, councils or boards, which are involved in the evaluation and approval of institutional programs, or in the granting of professional certification or licensure, may also be contacted. These agencies include, but may not be limited to, the following:
Accounting Examining Board
Board of Nursing
Department of Public Instruction
(teacher preparation programs)
Physical Therapists Affiliated Credentialing Board
Wisconsin Supreme Court (legal education)
If you are currently enrolled, or anticipate enrollment, in an educational program that requires authorization or licensure from a state agency, council or board that is not listed herein above, please contact the Office of the Provost at your respective institution.
[Implemented by UWSA Academic Affairs on June 30, 2011]
Link to Complaint Form