An Excellent Education

Ensure that IU’s schools and programs provide an education of the highest quality appropriate to their campus and school missions and are recognized for their excellence through national and international peer comparisons.

  • The best academic programs. Provide an excellent, rigorous, contemporary education through an extensive range of undergraduate and graduate academic and professional programs and degrees that meet the needs of Indiana, the nation, and the world.
  • Educating outstanding students. Attract academically outstanding, promising students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds throughout Indiana, the nation, and the world.
  • Academic success and completion. Enhance undergraduate student learning and success through university-wide efforts to address retention and graduation issues in a systematic, sustained fashion.
  • High quality student life. Enhance and expand the quality of student life through an environment that vigorously supports and sustains academic, service, and athletic achievements at the highest and most competitive levels and that is culturally rich, diverse, and inclusive.
  • Access and affordability for Hoosiers. Ensure that an IU education remains geographically, programmatically, and financially accessible for all qualified students.
  • Innovative teaching. Adopt innovative modes of teaching and learning that improve the educational attainments of students.

Serving Students

For almost two centuries Indiana University has been educating Hoosiers, and students from across the nation and around the world, at the highest levels of quality. For all of the many things a premier public research university like IU does, students are its reason for being, and student success is at the core of its mission. University faculties assure that the education received by students in their classrooms is relevant, comprehensive, and conveyed so as to stimulate the imagination and the quest for deeper inquiry. The university is committed to creating the best possible environment for learning and student success in the classroom on all its campuses and in the community, and to providing the environment and infrastructure that best allows students to experience and learn from the world’s accumulated scholarship and creative works.

Student group meeting on-campus

As a public university committed to the well-being of all of the people of Indiana, IU takes great pride in providing excellent educational experiences to students who bring to the university a wide range of precollege preparation, social and economic backgrounds, demographic characteristics, and life experiences. Accessibility is a core regional campus mission, and so the IU Regional Campuses have an especially important role to play in serving the unique needs of “non-traditional” students, for instance, students who are first generation college goers, who must attend part time for financial or family reasons, who are returning to school after stopping out for career or personal reasons, or who are active duty service men and women or are veterans. Such students represent a large and growing proportion of students, especially at the IU Regional Campuses, and IU is committed to their success.

Maintaining Excellence

IU further believes that while always preserving its liberal arts heritage, it must constantly seek to scrutinize and renew its educational programs and always seek to answer the questions posed in the charge to the New Academic Directions committee:

  • Is IU offering the kinds of degrees and educational opportunities that one would expect of a university that aspires to be one of the finest universities of the twenty-first century?
  • Do the structure and organization of the academic units at IU allow the productivity of its faculty to be maximized in fulfilling the university’s   educational, research, and clinical mission?
  • Are there areas in which our national and international peers have already successfully established new schools or other academic units in which IU should also be considering similar developments? Are there other areas in which IU is uniquely positioned to establish new schools or units?
  • Are there programs that have lost relevance or are unsustainable, and need to be radically reoriented or discontinued?
  • Should some of our present schools and other academic units be transformed through mergers or restructuring in ways that allow them to be more efficient and to take full advantage of important national and international educational trends?

The responses to these questions in the New Academic Directions Report of 2011 led to the largest academic restructuring at IU in nearly 100 years. It has seen the establishment in Bloomington of the School of Public Health, the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, the School of Global and International Studies, and The Media School; and the establishment at Indianapolis of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Fairbanks School of Public Health. The academic programs of the School of Continuing Studies were redistributed to the primary academic units of the campuses.

This is a process that never comes to a rest. As the world changes, and as new avenues for better understanding the world around us and ways to contribute to its improvement arise, IU needs to ensure that students and their faculty are able to pursue new lines of inquiry and linkages across disciplines and professions. IU will ensure its schools and programs always reflect these imperatives and always provide an education of lasting value.

Students studying

Additionally, it is not enough for IU simply to claim that it offers an excellent education. External review of programs serves to inform academic units of best practices in the discipline, and to provide information as to how well IU programs compare with peer institutions. IU is committed to strengthening processes for the regular academic review of schools or units within them, aligned where feasible with accreditation reviews, and to work systematically with deans to improve the rankings of their schools and units in ways that are responsible and align with academic goals.

A Valuable, Affordable Education

Recent studies from well-respected researchers have consistently shown that a college degree has never been more valuable to students, notwithstanding the recent economic downturn. Consider four empirical studies from 2014 alone:

  • The Pew Research Center found that the wage gap between the college educated and those without a degree is higher for the "millennial" generation than for any previous generation. The study finds that college graduates have lower unemployment and poverty rates, and higher job satisfaction.
  • The Economic Policy Institute, using data from the U.S. Labor Department, found a persistently growing wage gap between those with a degree and those without: 98% higher earnings per hour for college graduates, compared to 85% 10 years ago and 64% in the 1980s.
  • MIT economist David Autor, in a study published in the journal Science, found that the cost of not graduating from college is in the range of $500,000, given the higher pay and employment prospects from a degree.
  • The Federal Reserve Board of Cleveland found that although the up-front cost of attending college has indeed risen, the higher incomes in households with degree-holders more than compensates for the costs in tuition and delaying work-force entry. 

But this is of little meaning to students if they are unable to finance or to complete a degree. IU’s affordability commitment—Affordable IU—will continue to ensure that all academically qualified students are able to participate in programs that are of high quality, are accessible, and are affordable. Affordable IU comprises five interconnected strategies:

  1. Tuition—to keep tuition increases as low as possible.
    • IU’s most recent tuition increases were the lowest on record.
  2. Institutional Gift Aid—to provide extensive financial aid for qualified students.
    • Institutional gift aid from all sources has doubled over the past seven years and now totals nearly $300 million. Philanthropic support for gift aid for students will be a central objective of the Bicentennial Campaign (see Framework of Excellence 7) and of further university investment.
    • Particular attention will be given to gift aid for students with limited financial resources, and from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, including veterans and first-generation students.
  3. On Time Graduation—to ensure comprehensive measures are in place to assist all students to graduate on time.
    • IU’s Finish in Four completion award effectively freezes tuition for juniors and seniors on track to graduate on time. The Summer Tuition Discount Program provides a discount for summer courses at IUPUI and the regional campuses; at Bloomington, the number of credit hours that students can take for the same flat fee has been increased.
    • The new Office of Completion and Student Success supports and coordinates student completion activities and initiatives across the university.
    • Campuses will employ pervasive advising of students, supported by the IU Graduation Progress System (iGPS), including degree mapping, early alerts, degree audit, and analytics, to increase graduation rates and reduce the time to degree completion.
  4. Student Debt—to provide programs in financial literacy so that students can better manage and reduce student loan debt.
    • These programs reduced student debt across all IU campuses by $31 million in one year.
  5. Direct Cost Containment—to reduce other costs of attendance at IU.
    • Costs such as textbooks and software have been significantly reduced. Residence hall rate increases have been kept low.

Affordable IU has led to the cost of an IU education being kept low while remaining of excellent value. For example, the net price of an IU Bloomington education—full cost of attendance minus gift aid—is the lowest in the Big Ten, based on IPEDS data. Our strategy is the promise of continuing value.

Career Preparation

A related priority of IU will be to build career awareness and information into every student’s experience from the beginning of their IU studies, with improved academic and career advising programs, accessible information systems, and career connection programs. While employers consistently report that the core skills of a liberal education are the qualities they most value in current and prospective employees, all IU schools are pursuing opportunities to develop additional certificate and other qualifications that enable all IU students, regardless of their major fields of study, to obtain additional or targeted career skills through programs such as IUB’s Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP) and the Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. IUPUI’s innovative RISE and EDGE programs link students with general and specific career skills throughout their academic careers. The IU Regional Campuses specialize in developing programs and pedagogies that align with regional career opportunities and prepare students to thrive in those areas. All of these campus initiatives, as well as experiential learning, service learning, internships, and externships, serve to connect the campus with the community in ways that promote students' educational and career aspirations.

Technology in Education

IU is committed to using its scale, faculty, and technological expertise to offer courses and programs through a variety of face-to-face and digital formats. These include the traditional classroom environment, online and hybrid courses, and technology-enhanced classrooms. IU Online coordinates and catalyzes IU’s efforts in this area. These new technology-driven ways of delivering courses are not a panacea for the financial challenges facing higher education; online courses still require faculty and staff support, and students still need the personnel and facilities that provide a complete college experience. But online and hybrid delivery allow IU, through IU Online, to expand its offerings across campuses in a cost-effective way, through developing systems of shared online resources. IU will complete through IU Online a university-wide framework for online education, to enhance instructional quality and support, and create scalable economies in course and program delivery for all campuses.

In addition, as a means to further the diversity and quality of online offerings in a cost-effective way, IU is one of the co-founders, with a consortium of universities, in the development of Unizin, which uses the technological capabilities of universities to develop, and control shared infrastructure for online and hybrid course delivery, rather than relying on outsourcing digital education to private firms.

Student Life

Student success depends upon more than the content of individual courses or the curriculum of particular degree programs. An important part of it is conditioned by an environment that provides support in other ways, from student organizations that encourage personal and social growth; physical environments that are inspiring and up to date; welcoming services that support the physical and mental health and wellness of students; and the development of lifetime engagement and support of the university. IU will continue to support all these activities to create “sticky” campuses that attract and retain students, and stimulate their engagement in their education.

Cameron Mitchell of IU Southeast Grenadiers during a basketball game

Intercollegiate athletics is a pervasive aspect of modern college life, as it draws students to the campus, builds a strong sense of community and continuing connection to the institution, and inculcates educational and life skills of persistence, teamwork, and striving for excellence. While all IU campuses support intercollegiate athletics to some degree, the Big Ten athletics program at IU Bloomington is expected to serve as a model of the values of student athletics. There, as an important component of a high quality of student life, IU provides an excellent, broad-based, and financially independent intercollegiate athletics program focusing on playing by the rules; the mental and physical wellness, academic achievement, and athletic success of student-athletes; and integration with the university as a whole. IU aspires to lead during these uncertain times in intercollegiate athletics with innovations such as the Excellence Academy and the nation's first ever Student-Athlete Bill of Rights. Recognizing that intercollegiate athletics should enhance and expand the collegiate experience for all students, intercollegiate athletics will help to attract an outstanding and diverse student body; provide affordable, accessible, and exciting programs; and build lifelong connections among students and between students and the university.