Middle States concerned about University of Puerto Rico’s financial stability
SAN JUAN – Uncertainty that the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) will have the needed resources and a plan that will “ensure financial stability,” led the members of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) to maintain the probation status of eight campuses.
Regarding the nonprofit accreditation association’s requirements of affiliation and standards, specifically “Standard VI” on an academic institution’s “Planning, Resources and Institutional Improvements,” in a public disclosure statement, it requested “updated information on the impact of the Fiscal Oversight Management Board’s plan and proposed restructuring on the institution’s status and finances.”
The campuses left on probation are Arecibo, Bayamón, Carolina, Cayey, Humacao, Ponce and Río Piedras.
The MSCHE also touched on the matter of the probation process’ duration and that one of the actions decided in the June 21 meeting was “to remind the institution that federal regulations limit the period during which an institution may be in non-compliance to two years.” The UPR campuses were put on probation in May 18, 2017. It is worth pointing out that during the probation process, the institution remains accredited.
Originally, for these eight campuses, the non-compliance assessment also included Affiliation Requirement 3, which became Affiliation Requirement 2, that “the institution must be operational.” However, the MSCHE established that the UPR is in compliance with the regulation. The probation status was kept in place due to “insufficient evidence” that the university complies with Accreditation Standard VI and Affiliation Requirement 11, which when the probation began was Affiliation Requirement 8.
Standard VI requires, among other elements, that an institution has evidence-based “planning processes, resources, and structures” that align “with each other and are sufficient to fulfill its mission and goals, to continuously assess and improve its programs and services, and to respond effectively to opportunities and challenges.
Under Affiliation Requirement 11, the UPR needs to provide documentation of its financial resources, the budget process, audited financial statements and that it “demonstrates a record of responsible fiscal management.”
To address these concerns, the university’s administration must submit reports no later than Sept. 1 for each of the campuses on probation. In addition to the campuses on probation, the Aguadilla and Medical Sciences campuses also need to submit reports.
The Middle States’ public disclosure statement was published two days after the island’s fiscal board approved its own budget for the UPR, rather than the one submitted by the UPR Governing Board. However, the commission’s report is not in response to said action, as it was finished last week.