Almost one-third of Idaho Falls' residents who participated in a telephone survey last month said they want their higher education needs met by a branch campus.
And more than half of them said the campus should be near Eastern Idaho Technical College, rejecting Idaho State University's proposal to expand programs at University Place.The survey, conducted by two Idaho State graduate students Nov. 8-13, found 32 percent of the 123 participants want an existing institution to meet their higher education needs.
But support for a branch campus was not conclusive. Nearly 23 percent supported an independent four-year institution, 21 percent wanted no change in higher education services and 20 percent supported a two-year community college.
Forty-five percent said the campus should be near Eastern Idaho Technical College, 27 percent said they had no location preference, 19 percent said the facility should be near University Place and 9 percent preferred another, unidentified site.
Nearly 35 percent of Idaho National Engineering Laboratory employees polled supported a University Place location.
"There appears to be a solid market in the Idaho Falls area for a new educational facility and this is due as much to non-INEL residents as INEL residents," the survey concluded.
Survey results did not show much support for existing proposals to expand higher education services in Idaho Falls.
A group formed by Mayor Tom Campbell is backing conversion of technical college into a two-year community college and Idaho State has recommended expansion of its lower-division courses at a proposed $7.5 million building at University Place. A vote on the community was a possibility, said one of the students who did the survey for a business class project. "We just wanted the people of Idaho Falls to know what we found out."
In other results, the survey found that residents are willing to pay $35 a month to use the higher education facility and the average resident would use the facility 2.5 times a month.
Also, 57 percent of survey participants said they would use the institution for educational purposes and about a sixth of the participants said they would not use it.
"We found a lot of people wanted it in town even though they said they wouldn't use it," Rammell said.