Licensure of Private Postsecondary Institutions
What does licensing a private postsecondary educational institution mean?
“License” means a written acknowledgement from the New Mexico Higher Education Department that an institution has met the requirements for offering a formal educational curriculum. While licensure permits an institution to operate in New Mexico, it is not an approval or endorsement of an institution’s academic program. An institution licensed by the Department may not use terms such as “accredited,” “endorsed,” or “recommended” in reference to its approval by the Department; however, it may use the phrase “licensed by the New Mexico Higher Education Department” in its advertising and promotional literature.
Who should be licensed in New Mexico?
When looking at the meaning of licensure, it is important to understand which types of educational institutions are affected by this requirement.
The term “postsecondary educational institution” includes an academic, vocational, technical, business, professional, or other school, college, or university or other organization or person offering courses, instruction, training, or education, through correspondence or in person, to any person within New Mexico. In other words, a private career institute offering certificate programs such as medical assistance, midwifery, truck driving, culinary arts, pet grooming, business administration, or any technical occupation would fall under the licensure requirement. The same is true for private colleges and universities offering an associate’s degree and above. Another factor related to licensure requirement is the meaning of “presence” in applicable state rules.
“Presence” is defined as offering courses, programs or degrees on site or from a geographical site in New Mexico or maintaining an administrative, corporate or other address in the state. As a result, an institution offering online courses from a site in New Mexico is required to be licensed. Also, an out-of-state institution, offering programs on site or from a geographical site in New Mexico falls under the licensure requirement.
What is Exemption from Licensure?
The law allows for licensure exemptions if an institution meets specific criteria such as offering a course of instruction provided by an employer of its own employees for training purposes, or an occupational trade or professional school operating pursuant to any New Mexico occupational licensing law. The term “Exemption” means a written acknowledgment by the Department that an institution, organization, or other entity, has met requirements and filed pertinent information as required to provide educational services in New Mexico without regulation by the Department.
Are there consequences for not obtaining a license or exemption status in New Mexico?
Not having a license while offering degrees, course credits, certificates or diplomas can lead to civil penalties of up to $500 per day, per violation of any provision noted in Chapter 21-23-10 of the Postsecondary Educational Institution Act. To operate legally in New Mexico, a private postsecondary institution must obtain one of these official documents: 1) a license, or 2) a written acknowledgment of exemption.
Each private post-secondary institution or career school that qualifies as having a "presence" in New Mexico must obtain a license. "Presence" is defined as: offering courses, programs or degrees on site or from a geographical site in New Mexico or maintaining an administrative, corporate or other address in the state. Please refer to the application forms and rules below.
Once an institution has been licensed by the Department, an annual license renewal application has to be submitted in subsequent years.