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Connecticut Office of Higher Education Review of Postsecondary Regulations


The Connecticut Office of Higher Education (OHE) contracted with NCHEMS to review and revise its regulations governing state authorization and program approval of private postsecondary institutions and private occupational schools.

Topics Challenges Approach Impacts


The current regulations have not been updated in more than 20 years. The review is addressing state authorization as well as program review and approval., The recommendations presented incorporate contemporary practices from other states and the federal government and procedures being implemented in Connecticut but not reflected in existing regulations. In addition, NCHEMS will recommend appropriate changes to relevant Connecticut statutes.


Over the last 20 years, there have been significant changes in how states and postsecondary education providers interact. Indeed, the pace of these changes is accelerating as states experience shifts in demographic trends and economic conditions that are changing the demand for postsecondary education. A diverse array of providers including public and independent non-profit institutions and for-profit institutions and occupational schools, is responding to that demand. The mix of these providers varies considerably by state. In some states, including Connecticut, for-profit providers and occupational schools provide an unusually large proportion of short-term workforce training and certificate programs and disproportionately serve underrepresented racial/ethnic populations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deeper racial/ethnic fault lines in postsecondary and workforce participation, reinforcing the need for states to respond with equity goals front and center. In particular, the pandemic heightened the need for this review in two additional ways. First, it forced an abrupt and widespread adoption of technology-enabled instruction. This experience highlighted how regulations established for an earlier era, when the focus was on traditional in-classroom instruction, are no longer adequate. Moreover, as technology has made it possible to offer education and training programs without maintaining a physical presence in a state—necessitating new approaches to state regulation and the creation of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA)—existing regulations must be responsive to this evolution. Second, the pandemic spurred the adoption of new workforce development initiatives to help dislocated workers reorient to the changing labor market, including through new investments in training opportunities. This rapidly evolving marketplace needs appropriate and smart state oversight and regulation.

Finally, financial distress among independent higher education institutions, highlighted by numerous high-profile institutional closures, has accelerated the need for states to exercise meaningful oversight over institutional financial health.


NCHEMS is conducting a set of activities designed to ensure that the recommended revisions to Connecticut’s current law and regulations meet the needs of the state and its students, while also being practical and implementable. This requires an approach that emphasizes an appreciation for the Connecticut context informed by data and purposeful engagement with OHE and key stakeholders, research into other states’ regulatory processes and procedures, and evolving practices in accreditation. By encouraging a shift in the focus of regulations toward measuring the outcomes of postsecondary institutions and programs, this approach will help ensure that the results of the effort will address the needs of the state and of students.


This project is currently underway.