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Chapter 4. Rules Applying to All Public Institutions of Higher Education in Texas
Subchapter A. General Provisions

NOTE: The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board makes every effort to ensure that the information published on this Internet site is secure; however, due to the limitations of Internet security, the rules published here are for information only, and do not represent legal documentation.

4.1 Purpose

This section establishes rules on a variety of topics that apply exclusively to public institutions of higher education.

Source Note: The provisions of this 4.1 adopted to be effective May 27, 2003, 28 TexReg 4107

4.2 Authority

Unless otherwise noted in a section, the authority for these provisions is provided by Texas Education Code, 61.051 which describes the Board's role in the Texas system of higher education.

Source Note: The provisions of this 4.2 adopted to be effective May 27, 2003, 28 TexReg 4107

4.3 Definitions

The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

Source Note: The provisions of this 4.3 adopted to be effective May 27, 2003, 28 TexReg 4107

4.4 Student Absences on Religious Holy Days

(a) Under Texas Education Code, 51.911, all institutions of higher education shall excuse a student from attending classes or other required activities, including examinations, for the observance of a religious holy day, including travel for that purpose. A student whose absence is excused under this subsection may not be penalized for that absence and shall be allowed to take an examination or complete an assignment from which the student is excused within a reasonable time after the absence.

(b) Each institution of higher education shall develop and include in its official bulletins, catalogs, and other appropriate publications a statement regarding its policies and procedures for all excused absences. Policies and procedures for absences due to religious holy days shall be consistent with (or no more arduous than) the institution's policies and procedures relating to other excused absences.

(c) Texas Education Code, 51.911 defines a religious holy day. If a student and an instructor disagree about the nature of the absence being for the observance of a religious holy day as defined therein, or if there is similar disagreement about whether the student has been given a reasonable time to complete any missed assignments or examinations, either the student or the instructor may request a ruling from the chief executive officer of the institution or his or her designee. The student and instructor shall abide by the decision of the chief executive officer or his/her designee.

(d) Each institution may exclude from these policies and procedures any student absence for religious holy days which may interfere with patient care.

Source Note: The provisions of this 4.4 adopted to be effective May 27, 2003, 28 TexReg 4107; amended to be effective February 24, 2004, 29 TexReg 1659

4.5 Common Calendar

(a) The Commissioner shall establish and periodically update a common calendar for Texas public universities and community, technical and state colleges.

(b) The Commissioner may grant waivers to the common calendar to benefit students and/or to improve the efficient operations of the institutions.

(c) A semester normally shall include 15 weeks for instruction and one week for final examinations or a total of 16 weeks instruction and examinations combined. Every fall semester will end before Christmas, but not later than December 23.

(d) The summer session shall be considered an integral part of the college year and maximum use should be made of the summer session. Each of the two summer terms shall include no less than 5 1/2 calendar weeks, including registration, instructions, and final examinations. Colleges may register students for a six semester credit hour load for each 5 1/2-week summer term. Colleges and universities may schedule summer terms longer or shorter than 5 1/2 weeks, but the amount of credit students are allowed to enroll for must be proportional.

(e) Each college and university shall establish its own dates for orientation, registration, holidays, final examinations, and the end of each semester and summer term consistent with subsections (c) and (d) of this section.

(f) The Texas Education Agency shall be notified of the calendar adopted and be encouraged to communicate with the Board about possible further coordination of school and college calendar.

(g) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to preclude experimentation and innovation by any institution looking toward full utilization of facilities on a year-round basis.

Source Note: The provisions of this 4.5 adopted to be effective May 27, 2003, 28 TexReg 4107

4.6 Minimum Length of Courses and Limitation on the Amount of Credit that a Student May Earn in a Given Time Period

(a) Traditionally-delivered three-semester-credit-hour courses should contain 15 weeks of instruction (45 contact hours) plus a week for final examinations so that such a course contains 45 to 48 contact hours depending on whether there is a final exam.

(b) Every college course is assumed to involve a significant amount of non-contact hour time for out-of-class student learning and reflection. To ensure the quality of student learning, institutions should not allow students to carry more courses in any term (that is, regular or shortened semester), which would allow them to earn more than one semester credit hour per week over the course of the term. For example, in a five and a half week summer term, students should not generally be allowed to enroll for more than six semester credit hours.

(c) Institutions should have a formal written policy for addressing any exceptions to subsection (b) of this section.

(d) Courses delivered in shortened semesters are expected to have the same number of contact hours and the same requirement for out-of-class learning as courses taught in a normal semester.

(e) Institutions may offer a course in a non-traditional way (for example, over the internet, or through a shortened, intensive format) that does not meet these contact hour requirements, if the course has been reviewed and approved through a formal, institutional faculty review process that evaluates the course and its learning outcomes and determines that the course does, in fact, have equivalent learning outcomes to an equivalent, traditionally delivered course.

Source Note: The provisions of this 4.6 adopted to be effective May 27, 2003, 28 TexReg 4107

4.7 Student Transcripts

(a) Student transcripts shall contain a record of each state funded course attempted by a student at the transcripting institution after January 1, 1998. This includes all courses for which the student was enrolled as of the official census date each term, including developmental education courses, courses that were not completed, courses that were dropped, and courses that were repeated.

(b) After September 1, 1998, the student transcript or an addendum to the transcript certified by the appropriate institutional official shall contain a record of the student's status in regard to the Texas Academic Skills Program (TASP). Depending on the status of the individual student, the document should include the status for each section of the test (reading, mathematics, writing) with information as to how the student met the TASP requirement (TASP test or other test scores, "B" or better courses with grades and course numbers). The information provided should enable receiving institutions to use the transcript or the addendum as a single source of information to determine the student's TASP status.

(c) Student transcripts created after September 1, 2000 should be maintained by the institutions in a format suitable for electronic interchange. The format of transcripts shall be the format that is used to store the most transcripts by Texas institutions of higher education as of September 1, 1998 or another format adopted by a majority of the members of the Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

(d) Student transcripts or an addendum to the transcript certified by the appropriate institutional official shall identify all courses completed in satisfaction of the core curriculum as specified in 4.28 (h) of this title (relating to Transfer of Credit, Core Curriculum and Field of Study Curricula).

Source Note: The provisions of this 4.7 adopted to be effective May 27, 2003, 28 TexReg 4107

4.8 Expert Witnesses

(a) Under Texas Education Code, 61.0815, the president of an institution of higher education shall file a written report with the Board regarding members of the faculty or professional staff who received compensation for serving as consulting or testifying expert witnesses during the prior fiscal year in lawsuits in which the state is a party.

(b) The report shall be filed with the Board no later than September 30 of each year and shall contain:

(c) The information regarding the number of hours spent by faculty or staff serving as consulting or testifying expert witnesses shall be reported to the Board in the aggregate without identifying specific individuals.

(d) In the event an institution cannot provide the information specified in subsection (b) of this section, the Texas Attorney General's Office shall be requested to provide the information to the Board.

Source Note: The provisions of this 4.8 adopted to be effective May 27, 2003, 28 TexReg 4107