The double-digit shifts in certain programs’ enrollment at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne are on trend with recent years and not necessarily related to the school’s ongoing realignment.
The departments seeing the largest swings in enrollment are dental education (up 13.6 percent), medical imaging (down 17.7 percent) and the College of Arts and Sciences (down 10.6 percent).
“Enrollment changes experienced this fall are aligned with changes experienced over the recent years,” Carl Drummond, IPFW vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management, said in an email. “Certainly, we have experienced some impact that can be attributed to uncertainties created by the realignment process. However, it is very difficult to point to specific enrollment changes that are associated with the transition.”
IPFW is splitting into Purdue University Fort Wayne and Indiana University Fort Wayne, with the realignment officially going into effect July 1, 2018.
All IU programs, with the exception of dental hygiene and medical imaging, will be transferred to Purdue and Purdue’s nursing programs will be transferred to IU.
The departments of dental education, nursing and medical imaging and radiologic sciences will be managed as an additional location of IUPUI, according to IPFW’s application for institutional change in organization, prepared for the Higher Learning Commission in June.
The loss in medical imaging enrollment this year, as well as the 8 percent decline in nursing program enrollment are not related to “student ‘nervousness’ about the transition of these programs to IUPUI,” Drummond said.
“Rather, it is a combination of acceleration of current students to complete their degrees and the challenges of recruiting for all of our programs during this period of transition,” he said. “I am very confident that IUPUI will be able to maintain and in fact grow these programs starting with the incoming class of 2018.”
The more than 10-percent increase in dental education enrollment is attributed to the program being expanded to a four-year, bachelors of science curriculum, Drummond said.
The health science programs will still be offered locally at IU Fort Wayne, despite the college being managed by IUPUI. IU Fort Wayne will include IU’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry and social work and the department of medical imaging and radiologic sciences, according to IU Fort Wayne’s website.
In 2016, IPFW had 516 students enrolled in the Department of Dental Education, 1,356 in the Department of Nursing and 54 in the Department of Medical Imaging and Radiologic Sciences.
This fall, IPFW is seeing significant gains in technical degrees, which is aligned with the institution’s mission to provide “highly skilled workers in economically significant domains of study to the greater Fort Wayne workforce,” Drummond said.
The department of polytechnic, which includes mechanical and electrical engineering technology programs, saw an 8.8 percent increase and the department of civil and mechanical engineering gained 5.1 percent in enrollment.
“Our ongoing commitment is STEM programs will continue as we transition to become Purdue Fort Wayne,” he said. “I believe growth in these areas are being achieved both because of our efforts to offer high-quality degree options and student desire to enter these economically significant fields.”
Some of the enrollment changes are largely related to a shift of when and where students receive credit hours.
“The drop in credit hours in the College of Arts and Sciences is largely attributable to the expansion in the number of dual credit hours incoming students have upon acceptance to the university,” Drummond said. “With students completing more of their general education coursework while still in high school there is an associated reduction in the credit hours our liberal arts departments are asked to provide.”
In addition, students within the College of Arts and Sciences graduate in “a timely way.” Also, due to the elimination of several degree programs – among them were geology, philosophy and women’s studies - within the college last year, some former students transferred to other institutions, he said.