Four years of logistical hurdles have paid off for Texas Tech. The university opens its first international campus in Costa Rica in August. Tech President Lawrence Schovanec says when fully operational there will be about 1,200 students enrolled in Texas Tech University at Costa Rica.
“The people in Costa Rica saw some of their most able students, academically and financially, going to the United States, paying 50 thousand dollars a year and in some instances not come back and they want to keep that brain power there [in] San Jose,” he explains.
The academic programs being offered align with strategic development goals of Costa Rica and the Central American region. Being offered this fall inside the seven-story building where all classes will be held are electrical engineering, Industrial engineering, computer Science, mathematics, and restaurant, hotel and institutional management.
Schovanec says other programs likely will be added in coming years.
“These programs were selected based on the input of our partners, EDULINK. They had assessed the workforce needs there in the country and in the city in particular. That guided them to decide what programs we should offer. So, I think that this is going to grow. They’ve already expressed an interest in more prices from the college of business and we might also begin to offer certificates,” he says.
Tech officials have met with numerous companies with a presence in Costa Rica. Several of the PhDs and research and development people in those companies will be adjunct professors at the school, which is San Jose, the country’s capital. Those companies include Intel, Boston Scientific, National Instruments, IBM, Hewlett Packard and Marriott.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to avail ourselves of those people who have the credentials to be teaching these courses. We would like to offer about 60 percent of the instruction face-to-face—and this is a big deal for us—it has to feel like Texas Tech. You have to have faculty there that are going to engage those students and show them that they’re getting something better than they could get at the state or public institutions.”
The target student population is Costa Ricans and Central Americans who meet TTU admission requirements and English language fluency standards. US student exchanges and study-abroad opportunities will be possible and promoted.
In Costa Rica most students start the college year in spring, so Schovanec says he believes enrollment this fall will be around 200.
“They want students to be closely connected to industry. The building is designed, that would accommodate the collocation of the academic programs, instructions, laboratories and places for industry partners to be situated to help facilitate mentoring programs as well as internships,” he says.
Schovanec says tuition for 30 hours of coursework will be between $16,000 and $18,000 a year. TTU at Costa Rica is a commuter school on the western side of San Jose. That’s more than top level local American-international K-12 schools in the city of San José, but less than out-of-state tuition/room and board at US universities.
The initial overture to open a Costa Rica campus, in summer 2014, came from officials there. In August 2016 the Costa Rican campus was announced as a go. Two months later, ground was officially broken to construct the campus’ one building. Schovanec says a Phase II project is planned.
The campus was created and built through a partnership with EDULINK, a subsidiary of Promerica Group, a multinational conglomerate of companies operating in Latin American countries, and Texas Tech.
“They picked us and it was an enormously complicated process,” Schovanec says.