University policies and procedures don’t exist just for the sake of existing. They protect the integrity of a university’s mission, reputation, and operations, and support the management of major institutional risks. They create a standard for quality of learning, set expectations for safety, and hold faculty, staff, and students accountable. In short, policies and procedures are essential for any higher education institution to operate in a smooth, equitable manner.
While there are near infinite policies and procedures you could implement, below, we’ll cover a few of the essentials.
University policies and procedures related to academics are some of the most critical documents you will write for your institution. After all, what else is a college or university for if not academics? These policies and procedures are meant to guide students, faculty, and other staff as they navigate the most common academic tasks such as adding or dropping courses, declaring or changing majors, withdrawing from classes, and more.
Furthermore, you need to create academic policies that define minimum scholastic requirements. If a student does not meet the requirements and must be put on academic probation, you need to be prepared with a policy outlining this process to ensure it remains fair. Other matters of academic misconduct should be addressed with a formal policy, as well. These include disrupting class, plagiarism, cheating, falsifying research results, forging signatures, etc.
Universities are often tasked with providing important campus updates to students, parents, faculty, and staff, and to make sure they do so effectively, they’ll need formal policies and procedures around communication. These policies should cover who’s authorized to send official communications, what channels to send communications through, how to respond to incoming communications, and how to go about communicating:
- Acceptance and rejections
- Academic policies and programs
- Campus emergencies
- Health and safety updates
- University closures, delayes, and early dismissals
- Campus-wide events
- Certain personnel and organizational changes
- Deadlines that require action
Universities have sophisticated computer systems, networks, and information resources that thousands of students, faculty, and staff use everyday. This unique environment creates many risks and makes for an appealing cyberattack target. In fact, higher ed institutions account for three quarters of all security breaches in the education sector, and in 2021, the FBI’s Cyber Division even released an advisory notice warning that cybercriminals are steadily targeting more education institutions. Some of their most common tactics involve using phishing emails and stolen credentials to access schools’ IT networks.
In order to protect IT assets and keep the whole institution running smoothly, university policies and procedures for information technology are a must. The goals of these policies should be to:
- Establish IT personnel responsibilities and functions
- Provide guidance for the appropriate access and use of university information resources
- Define proper use of email, necessary actions for sending sensitive data via email, and privacy expectations
- Provide general protection requirements for desktop and laptop computers, mobile devices, and any endpoints that contain university data
- Establish a course of action for handling all aspects of a data breach incident
- Define the requirements for appropriate data deletion and proper disposal methods to be used when discontinuing use of university-owned devices
- Describe the requirements for the security controls that protect systems that process, transmit, and/or store university data
- Provide guidance for managing information security risks
Campus safety and the wellbeing of students is likely a huge concern for your institution. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 28,500 criminal incidents against persons and property on campuses of postsecondary institutions were reported in 2018, the most recent year they have data for. Crimes in general seem to be trending down, except in the case of forcible sex offenses which are trending up. According to RAINN, college women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed.
Higher ed institutions have a responsibility to provide a safe living and learning environment for students, staff, faculty, and anyone else who is on their grounds. When an incident occurs that negatively impacts the campus environment, you need to be prepared with university policies and procedures that can help you effectively address it.
Non-academic policies and procedures should be able to do several things:
- Define what constitutes academic misconduct. This can include hate or bias, sexual violence, hazing, harassment, fraud, theft, disruption, and intimidation.
- Clarify reporting procedures for nonacademic misconduct incidents
- Provide an overview of the nonacademic misconduct process including documentation, investigation, communication with all involved parties, ruling and outcome, and opportunities for appeal.
- Define students’ rights and responsibilities
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Policies and procedures are undoubtedly important for universities, but managing them can be a lot of work, and you don’t want any of these essential policies to slip through the cracks. ComplianceBridge can help ensure that they don’t. ComplianceBridge helps you manage the policy lifecycle from streamlined creation to dissemination to automatic reminders to review. Our software offers version stacking so you always have the most up-to-date document, targeted distribution, and storage in a centralized library, accessible to anyone who needs it. Ready to give it a try? Request a demo of ComplianceBridge today!
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