Embattled ITT winds down nursing program at 3 Indiana campuses

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Interested in becoming a nurse? Indiana has more than two dozen nursing programs, and hospitals are hiring at a furious clip.

But one large for-profit operation, ITT Technical Institute, has shut down enrollment to new students at its campuses in Indianapolis, South Bend and Merrillville.

“NOT ACCEPTING NEW ENROLLMENTS,” says ITT’s nursing website at those campuses.

The move comes as Carmel-based parent ITT Educational Services Inc. deals with low passing rates on state licensing exams over the past five years. ITT nursing students accumulated passing rates of 52 percent in Merrillville, 57 percent in South Bend and 71 percent in Indianapolis between 2012 and 2015.

Earlier this year, the Indiana State Board of Nursing put ITT and several other for-profit nursing programs on notice and requested plans of correction. The move could lead to the loss of accreditation, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

On average, state students in public colleges have a passing rate on the licensing exam of almost 88 percent, according to the Indiana State Board of Nursing. Students in not-for-profit nursing programs pass about 83 percent of the time. For-profit nursing program students have a passing rate of 58 percent.

ITT officials said they made the decision to close enrollment after evaluating the viability of the nursing programs. It called the review a routine practice.

“We made the decision some 18-24 months ago (depending on the program) that continuing new student enrollment in these three programs was not aligned with our mission going forward,” ITT spokeswoman Nicole Elam wrote in an email. “As noted, this happens countless times at institutions all across the nation and is a regular part of effectively managing a postsecondary institution.”

The nursing programs in question seemed to be facing a big challenge in remaining open in any event. If a program has a license-exam pass rate below 80 percent for three consecutive years, the state requires the program to submit a one-year plan of correction.

If the program fails to meet the 80 percent threshold after one year on the plan of correction, the state must the place the program on conditional accreditation and could initiate withdrawal of accreditation.

At the same time, ITT is fighting other big battles. The Obama administration moved earlier this month to terminate the ability of its major accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, to continue operating. ITT relies heavily on federal funding made possible by ACICS.

Also this month, ITT terminated its chief administrative and legal officer after less than two years on the job, without providing a reason, except to say it was “unrelated to any of the company’s business activities.”

Shares of ITT, which hit a five-year high of $93.78 each in 2011, have plummeted in recent years. The stock was trading at $1.82 in midafternoon trading Monday, down 2.6 percent on the day.


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