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3.4.7 Consortial relationships/contractual agreements

The institution ensures the quality of educational programs and courses offered through consortial relationships or contractual agreements, ensures ongoing compliance with the comprehensive requirements, and evaluates the consortial relationship and/or agreement against the purpose of the institution. (Consortial relationships/contractual agreements)

Judgment of Compliance

Sam Houston State University uses the common definitions of consortial and contractual agreements delineated in the SACS Principles of Accreditation publication. Specifically, a “consortial relationship is one in which two or more institutions share the task of developing and implementing courses and programs based on agreed upon standards. A contractual agreement is one in which an institution contracts for the delivery of courses or programs by another institution or service provider.” Sam Houston State University engages in three different types of consortial/contractual agreements with other institutions. Articulation agreements are negotiated with international universities to allow Sam Houston State University students access to study abroad opportunities. In addition, the University participates in the Distance Education Alliance. Finally, the University is a founding member of a multi-institute teaching center in the Woodlands, Texas. The University Center is built on a model that stresses a consortial agreement with five other SACS-accredited universities. In all cases, the University takes steps to ensure the quality of the education programs and courses through consortial relationships and contractual agreements, ensures ongoing compliance with comprehensive requirements, and evaluates the consortial relationships against the mission of the university.

International Articulation Agreements
To provide students with opportunities for international study, the Office of International Studies has developed a number of articulated exchange agreements with international universities [1]. In each case, the University agrees to let students take classes at a foreign institution while enrolling in Sam Houston State University with tuition costs equivalent to SHSU rates. International students are allowed to take courses at SHSU while enrolling in their home institution.

Students participating in a study abroad exchange program must identify the program and university at which they intend to study [2]. Prior to leaving they must get departmental approval from SHSU to take a specific course for which they will receive SHSU credit [3] [4]. SHSU faculty, in consultation with departmental chairs, examine the course descriptions of the proposed course to determine if such a course warrants academic credit. Upon the student’s completion of international study, the host international school sends transcripts to the SHSU Office of International Programs. The Office of International Programs then sends the transcript to the respective academic department and the SHSU Registrar.

Distance Education Alliance
The Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) at Sam Houston State University participates in the Family and Consumer Science Distance Education Alliance in Texas [5]. The Alliance consists of a consortium of all of the four-year public universities in the State of Texas that offer programs that certify teachers in family and consumer sciences. The Alliance was created to provide distance education access to courses needed by currently enrolled students to complete certification requirements. It was formed as part of the effort to address the shortage of family and consumer sciences teachers statewide and was facilitated through the Texas Education Agency. It was patterned after the effective Great Plains Alliance which was created for similar reasons, and includes universities in West Texas, Colorado, Kansas, and other states in the central part of the United States [6].

Universities can participate as “home” institutions (where the student is doing most of his/her course work and where the student’s degree plan is filed) or as “provider” institutions (that provide the faculty and on-line courses) or both. Students register for the courses at the “home” institution, pay their tuition there, and receive in-residence credit for the courses on their transcripts. The “home” institution retains all tuition and fees normally charged by that “home” institution for the course work. The “provider” institution receives the state funding generated by the semester credit hours for this course work. Students are not charged on-line fees for the course work.

A departmental survey of students who have used the FCS Distance Education Alliance to achieve certification across the state of Texas reported that nearly 90% of the respondents found the “Alliance” courses to be “at least as rigorous” as courses at the home institution. The University does rely on the other institutions (all of which are SACS-accredited) to monitor the qualifications of the personnel teaching Alliance courses.

The University Center
The University Center was created in the Fall of 1997. The Center was created to function as a multi-institution teaching center (MITC) [7] [8]. The organizing principle guiding the development of The University Center, has been one of collaboration of programs, people, and resources to maximize the strengths of each college, university, and the private sector to create a new higher education opportunity for the students, citizens, businesses, and taxpayers (state and local) of the greater Houston, North Harris County and Montgomery County region. This has resulted in having the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) designate The University Center as a multi-institution teaching center [9] with the authorization for Prairie View A&M University, Sam Houston State University, Texas A&M University, Texas Southern University, University of Houston, University of Houston-Downtown, and the colleges of Lone Star College, formerly the North Harris Montgomery Community College District (NHMCCD), to cooperatively offer coursework leading to approved bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at The University Center .

All degrees must be approved by the University Partners, The University Center Council, and THECB prior to being offered at The University Center [10]. Each University Partner granted authority to offer a degree at The University Center is solely responsible for the admission process, the degree plans, and the conferring of such degrees, and is designated as the “Home” institution of that degree. Each University Partner is assigned the responsibility of providing support courses for a degree program. If the Home Institution is unable to provide such support services, it may accept such classes from any of their University Partner institutions. It is the responsibility of each individual institution to maintain all of its own official records. To minimize the duplication of course offerings, the University of Houston-Downtown has been assigned the responsibility of providing common support courses for all baccalaureate degree programs. Sam Houston State University will provide those support courses that the University of Houston-Downtown chooses not to offer. If neither the University of Houston-Downtown nor Sam Houston State University provides a required support course, the University of Houston Distance Learning courses will be available. If a course needed for a degree program is not offered by one of these three institutions, then the teaching of such a course will be the responsibility of the home institution offering the degree program unless other arrangements have been specifically made in writing and approved by The University Center. It is the responsibility of each support institution to provide a transcript of each student’s academic record to the home institution at the end of each academic term in which the student was in attendance at the support institution.

Lone Star College is responsible for providing articulated freshman- and sophomore-level courses for each of the baccalaureate degrees. In those cases where Lone State College chooses to not offer a required freshman- or sophomore-level course, the appropriate home or support institution will be given permission to teach that specific lower division course at The University Center. In critical areas such as faculty qualifications, standards of instruction, specialized and regional accreditation, learning resources, instruction materials and support, evaluation of courses, reports, and record keeping, the courses and degree programs offered at The University Center will be maintained and supported at the same level of quality as those on the main campus of the partner institutions. Courses offered at The University Center will count as resident credit toward degrees in the same manner as those taught on the main campus of the home institution. Faculty teaching courses at The University Center will be employed by the university responsible for teaching the course. Such employment will be consistent with THECB regulations related to qualifications of faculty teaching at multi-institution teaching centers and with policies of the home institution. Sam Houston State University evaluates each class at the University Center as if the class were taught on the home campus.

Each of the partner institutions is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The University Center was accredited by SACS in 2007. Thus, each partner institution and the Center itself maintain ongoing compliance with the comprehensive requirements.

Supporting Documentation
Documentation Reference
Document Title
[1] Exchange Program Articulation Agreement Template
[2] Exchange Program Opportunities
[3] Study Abroad Procedures
[4] Study Abroad Application
[5] Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Distance Education Alliance of Texas, Distance Education Project
[6] Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance
[7] Multi-Institution Teaching Center (MITC) Definition, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
[8] The University Center (TUC) Fact Sheet
[9] Multi-Institution Teaching Center (MITC) Code for The University Center, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
[10] The University Center - Degrees Offered by Partners

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Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77341
(936) 294-1111