Ivy Tech Community College is now the state’s largest public-college system, surpassing Indiana University in enrollment, according to a report by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.
Enrollment in public colleges and universities statewide is up 2.8 percent between the 2006-07 academic year and 2007-08, according to the report. Ivy Tech saw the most significant growth among the seven colleges and systems reported with a 7.7 percent increase in fall enrollment between the two years.
“This is an important signal that we are on the right path with the community college in Indiana,” said Stan Jones, commissioner for higher education, in a statement. “The vast majority of enrollment growth in Indiana’s higher education system is at the community college level.”
There are nearly 384,000 students enrolled in campuses at Ivy Tech, Indiana University, Purdue University, Ball State University, Vincennes University, Indiana State University and the University of Southern Indiana.
Ivy Tech’s total statewide unduplicated annual enrollment was 120,447 students in 2007-08 compared with the 118,952 enrolled in the seven IU campuses.
“We are seeing more and more students seeing the value of the state’s community college system,” Ivy Tech President Thomas Snyder said in a statement.
“Many of those students are taking advantage of our credits that transfer to Indiana University and other four-year colleges and universities, while others are earning degrees that are resulting in good-paying careers.”
Ed Reed, spokesman for Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast, believes the surge in growth began when the state named Ivy Tech as Indiana’s only community college.
The switch allowed for easier transfers for students looking to begin postsecondary education at a community college, then transfer to a larger university after two years, Reed said. Indiana residents are also realizing the importance of obtaining a college degree, he said.
“People recognize that the days are long gone where you can hope to get a career of any kind without some postsecondary education,” Reed said. “You don’t just go to the local factory anymore and 40 years later they give you a gold watch, straight out of high school, anyway.”
Some of the growth could have been predicted with the economy. Historically, when the economy is bad, enrollment is up for colleges, he said.
“I think everybody has some extended benefits, if that’s the right word, when the economy gets rougher, because people go to all kinds of schools,” Reed said.
Ivy Tech statewide has almost doubled in enrollment over the past 10 years from 67,502 in the 1997-98 academic year to 120,447 in the 2007-08 academic year. This fall, Ivy Tech grew 12 percent.
Ivy Tech’s Fort Wayne campus grew by 7 percent from 2006-07 to 2007-08.