Rutgers University is trying to get closer to potential students in its home state of New Jersey.

Atlantic Cape Community College (Facebook)

Officials from the university went to Mays Landing on Friday to open a new Rutgers-run building on the campus of Atlantic Cape Community College. The building has classroom and office space for students at the community college campus taking Rutgers' courses.

The $7.5 million structure is the first building the university has opened on a community college campus, but the school has a relationship with two other community colleges and is expecting to establish a physical presence on their campuses as well.

Students who take Rutgers classes at the community college sites are taught by university professors. They have to meet the same admission requirements as students enrolling at Rutgers' campus in New Brunswick and pay the same tuition -- now more than $10,000 per year for a full-time student. New University President Robert Barchi said earlier this month that the remote learning centers and online courses are ways Rutgers can reach more New Jersey residents without putting a strain on its campuses, especially in New Brunswick, where there's not much room for additional students.

"This is a way for us to serve more citizens of New Jersey," said David Finegold, Rutgers' senior vice president for lifelong learning and strategic growth.

This semester, 1,800 students are enrolled in Rutgers' off-site classes, he said. The programs are tailored to nontraditional students -- those older than the 18- to 22-year-old group that dominates on-campus undergraduate programs.

The university started sending faculty in 1998 to the Freehold campus of Brookdale Community College, one of several parts of the state found underserved by higher education. Since then, it has added similar programs at Atlantic Cape and Raritan Valley Community Colleges -- two sites within range of Rutgers' main campus and its campuses in Newark and Camden.

Finegold said the university is working out the details of sending faculty to the Morris and Mercer county colleges, beginning in the fall of 2013.

Rutgers offers degree programs at the community colleges. Students can take general education classes through the community colleges, where tuition is lower, then go on to get their degrees from Rutgers' courses offered on campus. Students in some programs also can be admitted to both the community college and Rutgers at the same time.

Rutgers also offers specialized classes at some of the community colleges. For instance, Rutgers plans to offer a certificate in teaching gifted children starting next year. Finegold said that government-related Rutgers programs could be introduced at Mercer County College's Trenton campus.


(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)