The Herald-Times

Ivy Tech seeing spike in international enrollment

By Mike Leonard 331-4368 |
January 19, 2013

Indiana University has long had a reputation for international engagement and as a destination for international students. But on the west side of Bloomington, Ivy Tech Community College is showing surprising international numbers as well.

Thirty-three new international students enrolled for the spring, 2013 semester, bringing the total for the Bloomington campus to 84 international students from 21 different countries.

There are various reasons for the surge, including increased cooperation and collaboration with IU. There has been some movement of international undergraduate students between the two institutions, said David Zaret, vice president for international affairs at IU. “To date,” he said, “this has been a nice, mutually beneficial arrangement.”

But only 20 percent of the Ivy Tech international students have moved over from IU after learning about Ivy Tech through IU’s intensive English program. “The rest of them are applying directly to us from their country of origin. We work with them with what they need to do but when we talk to them, we find out that generally, they’re coming here through word of mouth recommendations — other students they know or siblings. They’re telling them there is another option in Bloomington and that’s Ivy Tech,” Bloomington chancellor John Whikehart said this week.

“Some of them are degree-seeking students and some of them are telling us their eventual goal is to transfer to IU,” he said. “And then some are interested in our unique degree program in biotechnology or our radiation therapy program. We have one student from Brazil who’s here because we now have an associate’s in fine arts degree.”

And then there is cost. Ivy Tech charges $111.50 per credit hour for resident students and $239.40 for nonresidents. IU charges $273.40 per credit hour for residents and $943.75 for nonresidents.

The Ivy Tech Bloomington campus already stands out in the comprehensive community college system that includes 14 regions and programs in 75 Hoosier communities. Last fall, the Bloomington campus saw students enrolled from 72 of Indiana’s 92 counties — a dramatic number considering that the 14 regions and 75 communities with programs are is designed to give students a higher education option close to home.

“I think because of our relationship with IU, we’ve become a magnet campus within our own system,” Whikehart said. “We have students from communities where there is an Ivy Tech location who choose to come here because their goal is go to IU Bloomington eventually.”

The Ivy Tech Community College system continues to grow, with nearly 120,000 students enrolled for spring semester, reflecting a four percent increase over last year. The Bloomington enrollment numbers, after years of dramatic growth, now is holding steady, with 6,187 students enrolled for the current semester. That’s a couple hundred fewer than fall semester, consistent with the trend IU sees with slightly lower enrollment figures for spring than fall.

Whikehart said one reason Ivy Tech is seeing more international students is the result of a simple change in college policy. “The college realized that we were only accepting one English language proficiency test, the TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language), when other institutions such as IU may have as many as six tests they accept for English language proficiency. Any student who hadn’t taken the TOEFL in their home country would have to spend as much as $700-$800 to take it here, so by not opening up to some of these other perfectly good tests we were pricing ourselves out of the international student market,” he said.

The value of international students goes far beyond simple enrollment numbers, the Ivy Tech chancellor said. “Our student body is very heavily Indiana students, whether they come from our region or the other regions in the state,” Whikehart said. “We all know that we’re moving into a much more global economy and as our students go out into the world, it benefits them to have interacted with and gotten to know students from other countries.

“And we tell our international students, this is a learning environment. They need to be our teachers. We can learn from them, about their culture and their nations and their backgrounds,” he said.

Ivy Tech campus in Bloomington. H-T file photo

Copyright: 2013

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.