Suspending or discontinuing a degree/major program can have impacts that go beyond the immediate program faculty, staff, and the enrolled students. Careful planning, as outlined in this policy, ensures wide communication and attention to these wider impacts, and ensures that program quality is maintained throughout the teach-out period. This policy also outlines ways that attention must be given to school/college considerations, System and Regent policy, federal regulations, and accreditation standards.
Proposals to suspend admissions to or discontinue degree/major programs arise from a number of circumstances. The circumstances that most often occasion such a request are:
In all cases, suspending admissions or discontinuing an academic program requires the same open and transparent process, widespread communication, documentation of concurrence by other interested and affected units, and participation in shared governance as is required to gain approval for a new program. Planning and proposal development will involve consultation and communication with a wide range of academic, administrative, and student support units. During their lifespan, academic programs become integrated with other academic programs and student services. The suspension of a degree/major must be managed so as to minimize any potentially adverse impact on students, on applicants admitted to the program, and on faculty and staff. Appropriate and timely notice must be given to all interested groups. Throughout the planning process, faculty and staff should consult with their dean's office, the director of academic planning and institutional research, the Registrar’s Office, the Graduate School, the Office of Undergraduate Advising, student governance groups, and others.
Approval steps to suspend admissions to, discontinue, or restructure academic programs are:
Advance planning is necessary to fully consider students who are in the pipeline and may be making college choices based on programs available at UW-Madison. There are four milestones to keep in mind when planning the timeline for suspending admissions to an undergraduate degree/major: (1) About a year and a half prior to the fall term of enrollment, the Office of Admissions and Recruiting begins distributing information to prospective students, including information about available majors. (2) About 15 months prior to the fall term of enrollment, the Office of Admissions and Recruiting begins finalizing print publications for distribution during the admissions cycle from September through May. (3) About 12 months prior to the fall term of enrollment applicants begin applying, including selecting intended majors, and begin confirming enrollment. (4) Between four and 12 months prior to the fall term of enrollment, new students are confirming their decision to enroll and are being assigned an academic plan for advising purposes. At this point of commitment, a student may have made a decision to attend UW-Madison based on a program advertised as available to new students. The student’s notification deadline is May 1 prior to the fall term of enrollment.
The teach-out plan is required to ensure that there is a plan in place to meet the commitment made to students who are in the program, or who are making decisions to enter UW-Madison based on the availability of the program, or students who were at one time in the program and have stopped out. The plan will need to make the program available to students for a sufficiently long time to allow all of those in the pipeline to complete. Depending on circumstances, this can be a short or a long period of time. As the program winds down, planning must be in place for alternatives to current requirements if needed. As the program winds down, planning must be in place for alternatives to current requirements if needed.
Under this policy, students who have stopped out should not be automatically readmitted to the program they left when they seek to re-enroll. (Before 2012, the undergraduate readmission policy puts students back in the same program even if admission has been suspended or discontinued.) Consequently, the teach-out plan must specify exact provisions for stopped-out students, as well as for enrolled and prospective students.
Note that confusion about what degree or major a stopped-out undergraduate should be re-admitted into is also a problem for programs that are re-organized or re-named as well as programs that are suspended or discontinued. A variety of program changes need to include specifications about how to transition stopped-out students.
Questions that the teach‐out plan should answer include:
Although there are various circumstances that may culminate in a decision to suspend admissions or discontinue a degree/major program, there are common issues that should be addressed in proposals. Expectations are stated below. Program faculty and staff who seek to suspend or discontinue programs, especially those with robust student enrollments, should explore the issues in-depth, and should confer with their deans and other constituencies and advisors as their discussions proceed. Each proposal should include (completed through Lumen Programs):
05-17-2012, 06-22-2018, 11-29-2019