Higher education officials want improvements from Ivy Tech

The Indiana Commission for Higher Educations didn't give Ivy Tech Community College high marks on the academic programs it offers or on how it is doing graduating students.

The commission on Thursday told Ivy Tech, which has 32 campuses throughout Indiana, to review its academic programs by March 1 and to either discontinue or improve those that have low enrollment and graduation rates.

"The commission is confident the recommendations outlined in this report create a strong path forward for Ivy Tech and Indiana's workforce," said Teresa Lubbers, state higher education commissioner.

The move comes after the General Assembly earlier this year didn't allocate any money for any major building projects at Ivy Tech campuses, the only Indiana public college that didn't receive money for any major building projects in the two-year state budget. The Legislature included a provision in the budget bill requiring the commission to review Ivy Tech programs with low graduation rates.

A report released Thursday by the commission said Ivy Tech graduation rates are significantly lower than the nationwide average for community college students. The report said the national average is 58 percent for full-time students and 40 percent after six years when part-time students are included. Full-time students at Ivy Tech graduate at a rate of 26 percent and part times students at a rate of 21 percent after six years.

The commission recommends that Ivy Tech perform an annual program evaluation based on student demand, labor market demand and effectiveness as measured by graduation or "productive transfer." It also recommends coming up with structured course sequences aimed at keeping students moving forward.

The commission wants Ivy Tech to put an emphasis on early career development and come up with ways to help at-risk students by helping them to apply for food stamps and other benefits. The commission wants each student to have a single adviser they can go to for help while they are at the school.

The commission set a Nov. 1 deadline to submit a report on how it has improved its student support.

Commission members say they will ask the Legislature to pass legislation instructing the Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Revenue to work with Ivy Tech to come up with a way to determine how many graduates are getting jobs and what their salaries are.

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