The Private and Out-of-State Postsecondary Education (POPE) unit of the Academic Affairs division of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is responsible for the certification of private and out-of-state postsecondary educational institutions operating in Virginia. The POPE unit certifies and regulates 82 degree-granting institutions and 108 career-technical schools. These private universities, colleges, career colleges and vocational schools provide educational instruction to approximately 52,000 citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia on a full-time or part-time basis annually.
To provide the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia access to reliable and valuable alternative higher educational opportunities and vocational training options by ensuring legal operations, ethical practices and quality education in the private postsecondary sector.
- Protecting the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia from fraudulent or substandard educational institutions;
- Ensuring institutions certified to operate in Virginia meet minimal academic and administrative capability standards;
- Mediating and investigating student complaints;
- Retaining student academic records from closed schools;
- Serving as advocates for and educating the public on the benefits and opportunities available from the POPE institutions;
- Administering the Student Tuition Guaranty Fund, which provides financial restitution to students injured by the closure of school previously certified to operate in Virginia.