Purdue News

October 2006

A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke

Dear Purdue Partners,

News coverage and editorial page commentary in the Indianapolis Star and other news media has raised a question about whether Purdue and other state-related universities in Indiana are admitting more out-of-state students to the detriment of those from Indiana. This is an important issue, because the people of our state support higher education through their taxes with the expectation that universities will help Hoosiers have better lives.

That certainly is Purdue's goal, but it does not mean that the university and its sister institutions would best serve the state by educating only students from Indiana. While providing the best education for the largest possible number of Indiana students is Purdue's first priority, we value out-of-state students as an asset to the university, the state and to other students.

Students from other states make up about one-third of the enrollment at Purdue's West Lafayette campus. Collectively, these students meet higher requirements and have stronger academic credentials than their classmates from Indiana. This is not because graduates of Hoosier high schools are less intelligent or well-prepared; it is simply because students who shop for higher education in the national market and who are prepared to pay the higher fees we charge to those from out of state tend to be stronger academically. In fact, many of Indiana's top high school seniors go to college out of state.

Purdue's top recruitment priority is to bring more of these highly qualified young people from Indiana to our campuses and, ultimately, to keep them in our state when they begin their careers. Our brain drain begins not with university degrees, but with high school diplomas.

It is an error to conclude that out-of-state students are taking seats in university classrooms that belong to Hoosiers. In fact, the number of Indiana students in the West Lafayette freshman class has increased by nearly 600 between fall 2001 and the current semester.

Denying admission to students from other states would not allow our state institutions to admit more Indiana residents. The university education of each student from Indiana is subsidized by our state, and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education has made a policy decision not to fund enrollment growth at Purdue West Lafayette or Indiana University's Bloomington campus. We are able to admit students from out of state because they pay the full instructional cost of their education — approximately three times what students from Indiana pay. However, there is room for enrollment growth at Purdue's regional campuses, which offer excellent educational opportunities.

It also is wrong to assume that low-income Hoosiers are being excluded in favor of out-of-state students. In fact, students from low-income families represent a higher proportion of the West Lafayette enrollment than exists in the state's population. Purdue's enrollment systemwide actually reflects Indiana's income demographic.

The Indianapolis Star's October 31 editorial correctly noted that our state's best strategy is to develop a higher education system that meets all our needs rather than trying to channel more students to West Lafayette and Bloomington. The other state-supported institutions, the Purdue and IU regional campuses, and the community college system all need to be strong and competitive so that every qualified high school graduate has access to the higher education opportunity that is best for him or her.

Enrolling highly qualified students from other states and other nations benefits all of us. These talented people raise the bar for everyone — not only for their fellow students but also for our professors. They make our universities better. There is another benefit, as well. While many of them leave the state after earning degrees, a gifted graduate from another part of the world is far more likely to remain in Indiana than one who has never studied here. Those who do stay are a tremendous resource for our state. They become valuable members of the work force and the communities in which they live and often are highly entrepreneurial, creating new jobs with the businesses they create.

Indiana will prosper only if it has first-rate higher education for Hoosiers, but out-of-state students remain an important asset to our universities and our state.


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