|(a) A person or institution may not:
(1) Granting of Degrees--Grant, award, or offer to
award a degree on behalf of a nonexempt institution unless the institution
has been issued a Certificate of Authority, including an Alternative
Certificate of Authority, to grant the degree by the Board;
(2) Transferability of Credit--Represent that credits
earned or granted by that person or institution are applicable for
credit toward a degree to be granted by some other person or institution
unless the institution is operating under a Certificate of Authority
or Certificate of Authorization and has written agreement(s) with
the institution which will accept the credit in transfer;
(3) Honorary Degrees--Award or offer to award an honorary
degree on behalf of a private postsecondary institution subject to
the provisions of this subchapter, unless the institution has been
awarded a Certificate of Authority to award such a degree, or solicits
another person to seek or accept an honorary degree and, further,
unless the degree shall plainly state on its face that it is honorary;
(4) Protected Terms--Use a protected term in the official
name or title of a nonexempt private postsecondary institution, an
educational or training establishment, or describe an institution
using any of these terms or a term having a similar meaning, except
as authorized by the Board, or solicit another person to seek a degree
or to earn a credit that is offered by an institution or training
establishment that is using a term in violation of this section;
(5) Agent--Act as an agent who solicits students for
enrollment in a private postsecondary institution subject to the provisions
of this subchapter without a Certificate of Registration, if required
by this chapter;
(6) Fraudulent Degree--Use or claim to hold a degree
that the person knows is a fraudulent, substandard, or is a fictitious
(A) in a written or oral advertisement or other promotion
of a business; or
(B) with the intent to:
(i) obtain employment;
(ii) obtain a license or certificate to practice a
trade, profession, or occupation;
(iii) obtain a promotion, compensation or other benefit,
or an increase in compensation or other benefit, in employment or
in the practice of a trade, profession, or occupation;
(iv) obtain admission to an educational program in
this state; or
(v) gain a position in government with authority over
another person, regardless of whether the actor receives compensation
for the position.
(C) The use of fictitious, fraudulent, or substandard
degrees--The Board shall provide the following information through
the Board's Internet website:
(i) the accreditation status or the status regarding
authorization or approval under this subchapter, to the extent known
by the Board, of each exempt institution operating in the state, each
postsecondary educational institution or other person that is regulated
under §§7.7 - 7.11 of this chapter or for which a determination
is made under §7.12 of this chapter (relating to Review and Use
of Degrees from Institutions Not Eligible for Certificates of Authority),
and any institution offering fraudulent, substandard, or fictitious
(I) the name of each educational institution accredited,
authorized, or approved to offer or grant degrees in this state;
(II) the name of each educational institution whose
degrees the Board has determined may not be legally used in this state;
(III) the name of each educational institution that
the Board has determined to be operating in this state in violation
of this chapter; and
(IV) any other information considered by the Commissioner
to be useful to protect the public from fraudulent, substandard, or
(ii) the Board shall utilize such usual and customary
sources for determining the accreditation status of institutions,
such as: guides to international education; the Board's knowledge
of legal actions taken against institutions, either by an agency of
the state of Texas or agencies of other states or nations; or civil
actions against institutions brought by governmental agencies or individuals.
(D) In determining the legitimacy of institutions headquartered
or operating outside of Texas, the Board may determine if the state
or nation in which the person or institution is headquartered, operates,
or holds legal authorization to operate has standards and practices
that are as rigorous as those of the Board's. A determination that
a particular state or nation's standards or practices are not appropriately
rigorous shall be sufficient reason to disapprove the use of the degrees
of a person or institution.
(b) Institutions Located on Federal Land in Texas--An
institution that is operating on land in Texas over which the federal
government has exclusive jurisdiction shall limit the recruitment
of students and advertising of the institution or its programs or
courses to the confines of the federal land and to the military or
civilian employees and their dependents who work or live on that land.
The institution shall not enlist any agent, representative, or institution
to recruit or to advertise by any medium, the institution or its programs
or courses except on the federal land.
(c) Offenses--A violation of this subsection may constitute
a violation of the Texas Penal Code, §32.52, or Texas Education
Codes §§61.312, 61.313. An offense under subsection (a)(1)
- (5) of this section may be a Class A misdemeanor and an offense
under subsection (a)(6) of this section may be a Class B misdemeanor.
(d) Transfer of Records--In the event any institution
now or hereafter operating in this state proposes to discontinue its
operation, the chief administrative officer, by whatever title designated,
of said institution shall cause to be filed with the Board the original
or legible true copies of all such academic records of said institution
as may be specified by the Commissioner. Such records shall include,
(1) such academic information as is customarily required
by colleges when considering students for transfer or advanced study;
(2) the academic records of each former student.
(e) Record Protection--In the event it appears to the
Commissioner that any records of an institution that is discontinuing
its operations are in danger of being destroyed, secreted, mislaid,
or otherwise made unavailable to the Board, the Commissioner may seek,
on the Board's behalf, court authority to take possession of such
(f) Maintenance of Records--The Board shall maintain
or cause to be maintained a permanent file of such records coming
into its possession.
(g) Administrative Penalties--If a person or institution
violates a provision of this subchapter, the Commissioner may assess
an administrative penalty against the person or institution as provided
in this section.
(h) Notice of Violation--The Commissioner shall send
written notice by certified mail to the person or institution charged
with the violation. The notice shall state the facts on which the
penalty is based, the amount of the penalty assessed, and the right
of the person or institution to request a hearing.
(i) Appeal of Assessment--The Commissioner's assessment
shall become final and binding unless, within forty-five (45) days
of receipt of the notice of assessment, the person or institution
invokes the administrative remedies contained in Chapter 1, Subchapter
B of this title (relating to Dispute Resolution).
(j) Collection of Assessment--If the person or institution
does not pay the amount of the penalty within thirty (30) days of
the date on which the assessment becomes final, the Commissioner may
refer the matter to the attorney general for collection of the penalty,
plus court costs and attorney fees.
(k) Specific Administrative Penalty--Any person or
institution that is neither exempt nor the holder of a Certificate
of Authority, including an Alternative Certificate of Authority, to
grant degrees, shall be assessed an administrative penalty of not
less than $1,000 or more than $5,000 for, either individually or through
an agent or representative:
(1) conferring or offering to confer a degree;
(2) awarding or offering to award credits purported
to be applicable toward a degree to be awarded by another person or
institution (except under conditions and in a manner specified and
approved by the Board);
(3) representing that any credits offered are collegiate
in nature subject to the provisions of this subchapter; and
(4) with regard to assessment of such specific administrative
penalties, each degree conferred without authority, and each person
enrolled in a course or courses at the institution whose decision
to enroll was influenced by the misrepresentations, constitutes a
(l) Other Administrative Penalties--Any person or institution
that violates subsection (a)(4) of this section shall be assessed
an administrative penalty of not less than $1,000 or more than $3,000.
(m) Specific Administrative Penalties for Agents--Any
agent who solicits students for enrollment in an institution subject
to the provisions of this subchapter without a Certificate of Registration
shall be assessed an administrative penalty of not less than $500
or more than $1,000. Each student solicited without authority constitutes
a separate offense.
(n) Termination of Operation--Any operations which
are found to be in violation of the law shall be terminated.
(o) Report to Attorney General--The Commissioner may
report possible violations of this subchapter to the attorney general.
The attorney general, after investigation and consultation with the
Board, shall bring suit to enjoin further violations.
(p) Venue--An action for an injunction under this section
shall be brought in a district court in Travis County.
(q) Civil Penalties--A person who violates this subchapter
or a rule adopted under this subchapter is liable for a civil penalty
in addition to any injunctive relief or any other remedy allowed by
law. A civil penalty may not exceed $1,000 a day for each violation.
(r) Civil Litigation--The attorney general, at the
request of the Board, shall bring a civil action to collect a civil
penalty under this section.
(s) Deceptive Trade Practice Act--A person who violates
this subchapter commits a false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice
within the meaning of the Texas Business and Commerce Code, §17.46.
(t) Applicability of Other Law--A public or private
right or remedy under the Texas Business and Commerce Code, Chapter
17, may be used to enforce this section.
(u) Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) Degree--Texas
has three career schools or colleges awarding the AOS degree: Universal
Technical Institute, Southwest Institute of Technology, and Western
Technical College. The AOS degree shall be awarded in only the following
fields: automotive mechanics, diesel mechanics, refrigeration, electronics,
and business. Each of the three Institutions may continue to award
the AOS degree for those fields listed in this subsection and shall
be restricted to those fields. The Board shall not consider new AOS
degree programs from any other career schools or colleges. A career
school or college authorized to grant the AOS degree shall not represent
such degree by using the terms "associate" or "associate's" without
including the words "occupational studies." An institution authorized
to grant the AOS degree shall not represent such degree as being the
equivalent of the AAS or AAA degrees.