YSU study uncovers educational voids

Trustees discussed the
possibility of lowering
out-of-state tuition rates.



YOUNGSTOWN — It may be 10 years before a community college opens its doors in the Mahoning Valley, but Youngstown State University trustees are looking for ways to fill the gap in higher education opportunities today.

The university recently commissioned a study comparing the demand for educational programs in the region with the current offerings.

The study uncovered a number of voids, said Dr. Nathan Ritchey, chairman of the committee studying the community college idea.

“There are needs that are being unmet that YSU currently could meet,” Ritchey told YSU trustees Tuesday.

“The gap study showed that there’s a need for a two-year RN [registered nurse] program, a need for a two-year program in fire science,” Ritchey said later. “There’s a need for culinary arts. There’s a need for programming that will help skilled workers attain a two-year degree.”

Some possible solutions to the educational gap problem include adding associate-degree programs and partnering with county career centers to provide academic support.

“It’s a time of opportunity for Youngstown State,” Ritchey said to trustees.

“YSU currently offers approximately 25 two-year programs. We certainly have the staff and the expertise to develop more of that type of programming.”

YSU’s participation in the state’s plan to bring a community college to the Mahoning Valley is on hold while trustees await the results of a 10-year master plan for the state’s publicly supported universities, to be released March 31.

In other business, trustees discussed the possibility of lowering out-of-state tuition rates to make YSU more attractive to western Pennsylvania students.

Dr. Thomas Maraffa, special assistant to the president, pointed out that less than one-third of the university’s revenues are currently provided by the state.

“The concept behind out-of-state tuition becomes less valid, if we receive less state support,” he said. “The state says you can’t charge the same, but you can make it about as close as you want it to be.”

YSU lowered tuition rates this year for international graduate students to near in-state levels in an effort to attract individuals from overseas. If that tactic proves effective, said President David Sweet, tuition cuts for undergraduate international and out-of-state students could follow.

“We’re very serious about it,” he said.

When YSU was a private school, under the name Youngstown College, about one-third of the students were drawn from beyond the state line. Now, that figure is about 7 percent, Maraffa said.


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