An Act relative to transparency in higher education

Summary

The abrupt closure and sale of Mt. Ida College to UMass Amherst caught the current students, newly accepted students, faculty and staff by surprise. Equally as troubling was Mt. Ida’s decision to close its doors without a school closure plan and without appropriate notice to the Attorney General and the Board of Higher Education. This legislation works to address issues of notice by requiring that when higher education institutions begin discussions or deliberations, or enter into written agreements to: (i) close; (ii) merge; (iii) acquire the facilities or land of another institution; or (iv) to open a branch campus, they must provide the board of higher education with reasonable notice not less than 120 days before the intended action. In addition, when a higher education institution realizes that it may not have the financial resources to sustain the quality of its education programs, support institutional improvements, or graduate its entering class, it must notify the board of higher education not less than 14 days after the institution becomes aware of those circumstances. Lastly, it requires that the proposals to merge, acquire, or open a branch campus shall be subject to the notice requirements and be reviewed by the board of higher education. During its review of the merger, acquisition or opening, these notices shall not be a public record and shall be exempt from disclosure.


An Act relative to early college high schools

Summary

This legislation directs DESE and the Department of Higher Education to establish and administer an early college education program to increase postsecondary completion rates and participation in career pathways. The program shall consider applications for partnerships among public secondary institutions and public and private institutions of higher education to be designated as Massachusetts Early College Schools. The program will allow for the accumulation of 12 transferable college credits and the offering at least one career pathway yielding an associate's degree or relevant industry credential.


An Act protecting public higher education student information

Summary

Public college and university campuses are constantly inundated with public records requests for the personal information of students.  These requests seek information such as student names, home and school address, date of birth, telephone and cellphone numbers, email addresses, area of study, graduation date, parent's names and their addresses. Our campuses feel compelled to provide this information as it has been designated as a "public record" for the purposes of complying with the state's public records laws.  This legislation amends chapter 66 so that campuses would not be required to comply with public records requests for student data that is defined as an "education record" in the federal Family Education and Privacy Act (FERPA), including records that have been designated by campuses as "directory information."  


An Act Concerning Sexual Violence on Higher Education Campuses

Summary

This legislation adds additional information on sexual violence to a higher education institution's annual crime report; appoints a Public Safety Officer to the Board of Higher Education to review of all campus safety policies; requires campus websites to include information about the resources available to sexual assault victims; requires that sexual assault policies be emailed to all students each semester; requires campuses to establish a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with sexual assault crisis services; requires the designation of a trained confidential advisor for students to report an assault to; and requires mandatory annual sexual violence training for students; requires sexual violence training for employees; and  creates a task force to develop a model sexual assault climate survey, which will be given to all students annually at our public and private colleges and universities in Massachusetts.