Iwama is actually quite close to Mito; only about 20 minutes on the train. I used to live within walking distance of Mito Station and could get to the dojo in less than 35 mins. It would be a little faster these days, since there is now an exit from Iwama Station on the dojo-side, so no need to walk all the way to the crossing. I have a friend who will study Japanese in Mito while training at the dojo next year.
Although it takes a couple of hours, some people do actually come from Tokyo to train in Iwama. Doshu and Waka-Sensei also make that journey regularly to teach.
Yes, I agree. I last visited Iwama with Ethan W. and we stayed in Mito and travelled to Iwama by train. In fact, Mito provided the base for dinner evenings with some shihans from the Iwama Dojo. But I have no idea about the opportunities for an overseas student studying Japanese as a degree subject part-time at university level. My research in Hiroshima was based on this assumption--and proved fruitless.