Compliance in Higher Education Burst 1


Welcome to the series Compliance at the
University of Washington. This video, entitled Compliance in Higher Education is part one in the series and provides an overview of the regulatory framework that governs colleges and universities. Thanks for watching! Institutions of higher education play an essential role in American life. Public research universities are particularly important because they educate millions of students annually, and because they perform more than half of the nation’s basic scientific research. The bulk of the funding for such research comes from federal government agencies such as the Department of Education, the Department of Health & Human Services, and the National
Science Foundation, just to name a few. Although funds are awarded based on proposals from individual scientists and research teams, colleges and universities must maintain institutional policies and practices that ensure appropriate stewardship of such funds. As a condition of accepting or processing
federal dollars – whether from research grants or for student financial aid – universities agree to comply with hundreds of laws and regulations that govern their operations. State and local governments enforce dozens of additional laws and regulations, particularly ones that relate to health and safety. Accreditors and credit rating agencies also guide the operations of the country’s research universities by publishing relevant standards and best practices. The laws, rules, regulations and standards of higher education are designed to: Prevent fraud, waste and abuse of public funds; Support rigorous, high-quality academic programs; and, Protect the health and safety of university
communities. The obligations of compliance cover every part of a research university – from the athletic department to campus housing, from the law school to the library. Some regulations affect only certain segments of a university community. For example: The Common Rule which applies to clinical trials conducted in medical schools and research hospitals, and protects human subjects participating in such trials. Title IV dictates the policies and procedures of the Student Financial Aid Office. Some regulations apply to the entire university community. For example: The standards and practices mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. These ensure that research labs, classrooms, and other workspaces, are safe and free from hazards. Title IX, a civil rights law that prohibits
discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity. Title IX is far reaching: it mandates equal
access and opportunity in collegiate athletics and academic programs, and guides an institution’s response to incidents of sexual violence. In recent years, the number of federal laws and regulations with which universities must comply has increased. The complexity of those laws has grown significantly as well, and government agencies are publishing volumes of detailed guidance explaining them. For decades, regulatory agencies advised and encouraged universities to comply with laws and regulations through simple education and awareness campaigns. Times have changed, and the era of enforcement has arrived. Regulators are adding resources to monitor compliance across campuses and enforcement actions are making headlines. Compliance is mandated and willful disregard for legal and ethical obligations may result in fines or personal liability. In short, regardless of burden or cost, universities must ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations, standards, and federal agency guidance. Though every member of a university community has a role to play, management of a research institution’s complex compliance obligations requires skilled professionals with detailed, specialized and current subject matter expertise. To ensure adherence to the multitude of laws and regulations, many public research universities
have established centralized compliance programs, organized around key areas such as research, health and safety, finance, information, civil rights, employment, medicine and athletics. An effective compliance program is independent, tied to an institution’s mission, appropriately resourced and funded, and respected by the community it serves. Such a program includes these elements: Proper oversight by, and access to, university leadership; Standards of conduct, policies and procedures, to guide community behavior and activities; Ongoing education and training for students, faculty, staff and others on relevant compliance obligations; Monitoring and auditing of established controls to deter and detect non-compliance; Systems for receiving reports of, and investigating, incidents of non-compliance; Clear expectations regarding the ethical and responsible behavior of all community members; And, mechanisms that respond to the underlying causes of non-compliance with appropriate measures to prevent recurrence. What does a university with effective compliance practices look like? The institution provides regular information regarding crime occurring on and around its campus, to enhance the community’s safety and security. Laboratory accidents are promptly and thoroughly investigated to determine root causes. Standard operating procedures are regularly evaluated, and adjusted when necessary, and training on relevant best practices is made available to researchers. The institution informs students about the meaning and significance of consent in sexual encounters. Relevant information and resources are made available to students, faculty and staff so that persons with disabilities may obtain
reasonable accommodations. These examples demonstrate how the laws, rules and regulations of higher education exist to foster a University environment that is safe and accessible, one that promotes fairness, inquiry, and opportunities for learning. This completes part one of the series Compliance at the University of Washington. In part two, learn about the seven elements of an effective university compliance program.

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