Compliance as a University Wide (Enterprise) Issue

220x146-Regulation-Task-Force-ReportThe compliance problem is exacerbated by the sheer volume of mandates—approximately 2,000 pages of text—and the reality that the Department of Education issues official guidance to amend or clarify its rules at a rate of more than one document per work day. As a result, colleges and universities find themselves enmeshed in a jungle of red tape, facing rules that are often confusing and difficult to comply with. They must allocate resources to compliance that would be better applied to student education, safety, and innovation in instructional delivery. Clearly, a better approach is needed. Source: Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities

Every higher education administrator needs an introduction to compliance as an Enterprise (Institution Wide) Issue. Beware, entering the maze of rules, regulations, and requirements, is not for the faint of heart. It is complex, convoluted and confusing, and difficult to reconcile from the internal perspective of academic management as the lens most administrators rely upon. I recommend beginning with the 144 page report Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities cited in the opening quote and published by the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education (February 2015). Specifically, focus upon Appendix I, the Regulations Matrix (pages 43-57). This first matrix introduces the issues within a recognizable and approachable context of the issues related to the challenge of compliance as faced by front line administrators and institutional governance.

cover_trusteesdhip_julaug_13_0I recommend you next turn to the Board’s Role in the Regulatory Era available from AGB (Association of Governing Boards). If you are a member of a governing board then this is a must read. The succinct article is valuable to all administrators and those in academic governance as a means of building a cohesive awareness, understanding the scope and magnitude of the influence of a compliance culture on managing an institution. AGB just released a new publication Top 10 Campus Legal Issues for Boards that zeroes in on a finite list of legal risks that help campus citizens to understand that the issues of compliance may also expose the institution to legal and financial risks. AGB’s short list of issues includes:

  1. Sexual Violence
  2. Risky Student Behavior
  3. Cybersecurity
  4. Online Learning
  5. Affirmative Action In Admissions and Financial Aid
  6. Workplace Issues
  7. Statutory and Regulatory Compliance Issues
  8. Federal Cost Accounting and Effort Reporting
  9. Construction and Deferred Maintenance
  10. Transparency, Ethical Conduct, and Behavior

If you have specific compliance concerns, findings, or wish to dig deeper then I recommend turning to the Higher Education Compliance Alliance (HECA) Compliance Matrix which provides a comprehensive list of key federal laws and regulations governing colleges and universities. It includes a brief summary of each law, applicable reporting deadlines, and links to additional resources.

If you wish to explore a career in compliance then I recommend the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) and the University Risk Management and Insurance Association (URMIA).

If you have other resources you recommend please feel free to append them to this post.