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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE II EXECUTIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS
    OF THE COMMONWEALTH
  • CHAPTER 15A PUBLIC EDUCATION
  • Section 9 Powers and duties of council

Section 9. The council shall have the following duties and powers:— (a) confer upon the boards of trustees the power to offer degree programs after taking into account, among other things, the need, resources and mission of the institution. The council shall confer the authority to award degrees to persons who have satisfactorily completed degree requirements; (b) in addition to the degrees authorized to be awarded under clause (a), the council may approve the awarding of certain other degrees and may define and authorize new functions or new programs, or consolidate, discontinue or transfer existing functions, educational activities and programs. The council shall act in writing on requests for program approval from boards of trustees within six months of said request, or said program shall be considered approved. The council may, after a public hearing and submission of a written report to the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate, by a two-thirds vote of the full membership of the council, recommend to the secretary to consolidate, discontinue, or transfer divisions, schools, stations, branches or institutions as the council deems advisable. If, in the opinion of the council, a college campus should be closed or consolidated, the council shall make that recommendation to the secretary and the secretary, if she approves the closure recommendation, shall submit such proposal to the secretary of administration and finance, the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on higher education, and the chairs of the house and senate ways and means committees. The joint committee on higher education may, within 30 days of the receipt of a proposal, hold a public hearing on its merits. The council shall not close a college without the authorization of the secretary and the general court; (c) analyze the present and future goals, needs and requirements of public higher education in the commonwealth and establish overall goals in order to achieve a well-coordinated quality system of public higher education in the commonwealth. Such analysis shall include, but not be limited to, an analysis of state and local labor market trends and the economic development plans of the commonwealth conducted in cooperation with the secretary of labor and workforce development, the secretary of housing and economic development, and their respective staffs; (d) develop mission statements as defined in section seven; (e) review institutional mission statements, pursuant to section seven; (f) subject to the secretary’s approval prepare a five year master plan for public higher education in the commonwealth, which plan shall take into account the analysis mandated in clause (c) and the five year plans submitted by individual boards of trustees. The master plan shall include, but need not be limited to, enrollment projections, utilization of existing facilities, promotion of research, programmatic excellence, and public service activities, recommendations for closing of facilities or the construction or acquisition of new facilities, program distribution and the need for program revision, including the termination of obsolete or unnecessarily duplicative programs. The master plan shall be filed with the clerk of the house of representatives, the clerk of the senate and the secretary of administration and finance; (g) annually file a detailed progress report on the five year master plan with said clerks and secretaries by the first Wednesday in September; (h) require boards of trustees to submit admission standards and program standards, which shall be subject to the disapproval of the council; provided, however, that said admission standards shall comply with the provisions of section thirty and that the council shall publish all admission and program standards; (i) develop a rational and equitable statewide tuition plan for the state universities and the community colleges in the commonwealth, which plan shall take into account by type of institution, the per student maintenance costs and total mandated costs per student. The total mandated costs per student shall include the state appropriation, retained revenue, fringe benefits and ongoing maintenance. Said tuition plans shall include direct and indirect elements of the per student maintenance costs, including but not limited to, faculty and administrators that support an institution’s primary mission of instruction; student admission services, and ongoing maintenance for classrooms, administrative buildings, libraries and laboratories. Said tuition plan shall include revised retention expenditure regulations which take into account the needs of said institutions with regard to personnel and utility costs. Said tuition plan shall further take into account the need to maximize student access to higher education regardless of a student’s financial circumstances. The council shall issue regulations governing the implementation of such tuition plans by the state universities and the community colleges. In the case of the university, the council shall review the recommendations of the board of trustees relative to tuition rates at said university and its campuses. Said tuition rates shall be subject to the approval of the council. The council shall establish final tuition rates for the subsequent academic years no later than fifteen days prior to the deadline for submission of state or federal financial aid applications by students attending the institutions of higher education set forth in section five. The council shall establish guidelines to be followed by each public institution of higher education relative to student charges and whether said charges should be classified as tuition or as fees. Said guidelines shall be based upon a study of tuition and fees which shall be conducted by the council, and which shall be authorized by statute; provided, that fees as defined by said guidelines, shall not exceed twenty-five percent of total student charges for the state colleges and the community colleges. (j) receive allotments to the commonwealth under federal programs of aid to public higher education and disburse such funds in accordance with a plan promulgated by the council, not to include grants to individuals or grants received directly by institutions; (k) review enrollment levels for each institution of the system subject to disapproval of the council; (l) require each institution in the system to submit to the council and the secretary a 5-year plan, which plan shall be updated annually and shall be subject to the secretary’s approval, in consultation with the council; (m) have overall responsibility for the property, real and personal, occupied or owned by the council, state universities and community colleges; (n) subject to its direction and approval, authorize the commissioner to seek, accept and administer grants, gifts and trusts for system-wide purposes from private foundations, corporations, individuals and federal agencies, which shall be administered under the provisions of section two C of chapter twenty-nine of the General Laws and disbursed at the direction of the council pursuant to its authority; (o) from time to time, employ consultants and experts to study and report on matters necessary to the operation of the system; (p) maintain a uniform accounting system as required by the state comptroller; (q) approve and fix the compensation of the chief executive officer of each institution within the state university system and community college system; (r) review annually, in accordance with post-audit procedures established by the council, the fiscal operations of constituent institutions. The council shall insure public inspections, through publication, of institutional spending plans; (s) require, collect, analyze, maintain such data from institutions and agencies for public higher education as may be relevant to the careful and responsible discharge of its purposes, functions and duties and such data shall include information available from private institutions of higher education. In the case of public institutions, such data shall include, but not be limited to, analyses of the rates of graduation and the scores received by students on standardized examinations. In order to facilitate the timely use of such data, the board shall, in consultation with the public institutions of higher education, establish a schedule for submission of the data. The council shall publish said analyses, both for the system and for individual institutions. (t) issue regulations defining resident of the commonwealth and proof of the same for the purpose of admission and tuition expenses of public institutions of higher education and prepare uniform proofs of residence to be used by all public institutions; provided, however, that insofar as the Massachusetts Maritime Academy is designated a regional maritime academy by the United States maritime administration, residents of the states comprising the designated region and attending the Massachusetts Maritime Academy shall be considered Massachusetts residents for the purposes of admission and tuition; (u) establish, where appropriate, coordination between and among post-secondary institutions public or private and resolve conflicts of policies or operations arising in public higher education; (v) develop and implement a transfer compact for the purpose of facilitating and fostering the transfer of students without the loss of academic credit or standing from one public institution to another; (w) establish an affirmative action policy and implement a program necessary to assure conformance with such policy throughout the system; (x) in the case of state universities, fix the classification, title, salary range within the general salary schedule and descriptive job specifications for each position shall be determined by the council for each member of the professional staff and copies thereof shall be placed on file with the governor, budget director, personnel administrator and the joint committee on ways and means, except that any such salary may be fixed at any amount not less than the minimum salary nor more than the maximum salary shown in said schedule; provided, however, the council may establish the salary for the chief executive officer and such other officers and members of the professional staff and for the academic deans and members of the professional teaching staff without reference to the general salary schedule and salary range; and, provided further, that no such salary shall be established for any academic dean or any member of the professional teaching staff unless his classification rating is equal to or higher than that of professor, nor shall the number of academic deans and members of the professional teaching staff whose salaries may be so established exceed one percent of the combined total number of academic deans and members of the professional teaching staff. A notification of each personnel action taken shall be filed by the council with the personnel administrator and with the comptroller; (y) in the case of community colleges, fix the classification, title, salary range of each member of the professional staff within the general salary schedule, except that any such salary may be fixed at any amount not less than the minimum salary nor more than the maximum salary shown in said schedule; provided, however, that the council may fix the salary and salary range for the chief executive officer of each individual community college and other officers and members of the professional staff of the community college system not exceeding in number one percent of the total number of such other officers and members of the professional staff taken together in the community college system, without reference to the general salary schedule; and provided further, that no such salary shall be fixed for any such member classed within the one percent unless he holds a position equivalent to or higher than the rank of professor; (z) recognize the duly elected student government association at each public institution of higher education as the official representative of the student body; (aa) submit a written application of HEFA requesting that said authority undertake a project, as defined in section three of chapter six hundred and fourteen of the acts of nineteen hundred and sixty-eight, on behalf of one or more public institutions for higher education, as so defined; provided, however, that the council shall only make such application for a project on behalf of the public university if such project is approved by the board of trustees of the public university; (bb) transfer or pledge that they will periodically transfer to HEFA any funds available for expenditure by the council, in order to provide for the expenses of HEFA and for the payment of indebtedness incurred by HEFA in connection with any project financed by HEFA on behalf of the council, one or more public institutions of higher education, their affiliated building authorities, or any other organization affiliated therewith, as defined in paragraph (e) of said section three of said chapter six hundred and fourteen; provided, however, that in the case of any funds expected to be available for expenditure by the council or such other entities pursuant to subsequent appropriation or other spending authorization by the legislature, the council may only pledge that they will so transfer such funds subject to such subsequent appropriation or other spending authorization. Any such pledge shall be valid and binding from the time when the pledge is made; the funds so pledged shall immediately be subject to the lien of such pledge without any physical delivery thereof or further act, and the lien of any such pledge shall be valid and binding as against all parties having claims of any kind in tort, contract or otherwise against the council or any such public institution of higher education, affiliated building authority, or other organization affiliated therewith, irrespective of whether such parties have notice thereof. Neither the resolution nor any trust agreement by which such a pledge is created need be filed or recorded except in the records of HEFA; (cc) administer a program, without further appropriation, to provide no-interest loans to undergraduate students domiciled in the commonwealth, enrolled in and pursuing a program of higher education in the commonwealth in any approved public or independent college, scientific or technical institution, or any other approved institution furnishing a program of higher education. Such assistance shall consist of full or partial loans to students in need of assistance. Repayment shall commence within six months of graduation or termination of studies; provided, that no repayment schedule shall exceed a term of ten years. Monies received in repayment shall be retained by the council to provide the no interest loans and to provide for the administration of the programs without further appropriation; provided, however, that not more than $775,000 of the monies shall be expended annually for the administration of the program. The Massachusetts state scholarship office shall establish guidelines to govern said program which shall include, but not be limited to, eligibility requirements for students, eligibility requirements for participating institutions, terms of payment, deferment options, provisions for default, and a maximum loan award as determined by an indexing system; (dd) to develop funding formulas for state and community colleges pursuant to section 15B of this chapter; (ee) to develop a standardized form for reporting institutional expenditures, and for the submission of institutional spending plans pursuant to subparagraph (m) of the first paragraph of section 22 of this chapter; (ff) to approve the expansion of campus missions to embrace specialized missions, expanded regional or national outreach, or a more entrepreneurial model of service delivery pursuant to section 7 and subparagraph (p) of the first paragraph of section 22 of this chapter; (gg) develop a system to track students who transfer out of public institutions of higher education in order to improve data on what degrees, if any, those students earn from other institutions of higher education.

Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary, the board of higher education shall have authority to approve degree programs offered by institutions of higher education; provided, however, that any other licensing body approving specific course offerings required as components of such degree programs under said licensing body’s licensing authority shall not have any other authority over course offerings which are not required for licensure.

Whenever a public institution of higher education in the commonwealth requests a tuition rate and charges reduction for residents of bordering states, the board may approve such tuition reduction to not less than one-and-one-half times the resident tuition rate. Prior to the approval of any such tuition adjustment, the board shall promulgate regulations based upon an evaluation that yields the following conclusions: such institution is below enrollment capacity and the projected cost to the commonwealth of such tuition reduction would be minimal when taking into account projected enrollment growth associated with such adjustment. Not less than 30 days prior to the promulgation of such regulations, the board shall report the findings of such evaluation, including a fiscal impact analysis, to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on higher education. The board shall seek reciprocal arrangements from bordering states where no such tuition reduction is available for Massachusetts residents.