We hope that you and the members of your families and communities are safe and well.
As anticipated, the Department of Education, through its Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), has announced multi-day hearings for the purpose of collecting public comments pertaining to existing Title IX and various higher education regulations. It would appear that these activities are a precursor to negotiated rulemaking which suggests that there is an intention to once again re-regulate these aspects of the law (see Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended).
NAST provides this information for your review and recommends a careful study of it and existing regulations. Institutions may wish to participate in the process as they deem appropriate given any concern held at this time as it pertains to current regulations and/or possible changes which may have an impact on institutions and their students.
The following describes the announced activities.
Public Hearing – Title IX
On May 20, 2021, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education announced a virtual public hearing to be held June 7-11, 2021, to gather public comment regarding federal activity related to Title IX. This public hearing follows final regulations published May 19, 2020 that went into effect August 14, 2020. Information regarding the public hearing may be found at the following link: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/department-educations-office-civil-rights-announces-virtual-public-hearing-gather-information-purpose-improving-enforcement-title-ix.
A brief overview and update regarding Title IX that may be helpful to review as the information noted above is considered was published by NAST at the following page: https://nast.arts-accredit.org/informed-decision-making-collecting-considering-and-synthesizing-information/#ix.
Public Hearing – Higher Education Regulations
On May 24, 2021, the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) in the Department of Education announced a virtual public hearing to be held June 21, 23, and 24, 2021, to gather public comment regarding federal activities related to a number of recently published, amended, and rescinded regulations. The purview of the public hearing will include Ability to Benefit; Borrower Defense to Repayment; Gainful Employment; Financial Responsibility for Institutions of Higher Education; Public Service Loan Forgiveness; and many other topics. Information regarding the public hearing may be found at the following link: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/department-educations-office-postsecondary-education-announces-public-hearings-protections-students-loan-repayment-targeted-loan-cancellation-programs-and-other-higher-education-regulations.
A brief overview and update regarding many of the issues that will be discussed in the public hearing was published by NAST at the following page: https://nast.arts-accredit.org/about/current-notices/federal-advisory-recent-federal-activities-of-note-and-importance/.
With regard to the regulations under the purview of the Office of Postsecondary Education, should the Department of Education, following these public hearings, open the process of negotiated rulemaking, it will seek nominations for negotiated rulemaking committee members. Committees created would convene no earlier than August 2021.
NAST will continue to remain abreast of federal initiatives and provide updates as they become available and as appropriate. It is strongly recommended that individuals administering institutions to which these issues apply review carefully regulations currently in force. It is also recommended that this information be shared with appropriate offices within your institution. In reviewing such information and in preparing any response or comment, administrators should consider the impact that changes to regulations, if approved, will have on postsecondary institutions and their participating students.
On behalf of the NAST staff, please accept our best wishes for a successful conclusion to the academic year and a restful summer.