Wednesday, October 23, 2019

UW enrollments - Madison higher and thriving, most other campuses worse and struggling

Recently, we got information on enrollment changes at all UW System campuses for this year. And it generally wasn't good news.
Reflecting state and national demographic trends, the University of Wisconsin System’s preliminary enrollment for fall 2019 is 167,186 students, an overall 2.6 percent decline from last year.

Nationally, higher education enrollments are down. These modest enrollment reductions are not unique to the UW System amid trends of fewer high school graduates and low unemployment rates in a strong economy….

Overall, preliminary fall 2019 enrollment in the UW System declined by 4,450 students compared to 2018.
This is a problem because with no additional funds to pay for a tuition freeze, the declining enrollment means campuses will be limited in the amount of resources that it can use.

The UW recently submitted its annual tuition and fees report to the Joint Finance Committee, and despite the lower enrollments, the campuses have gotten a few more dollars in tuition in recent years – about $59 million this year and $35.6 million the year before.

But again, much of that increase has gone to UW-Madison, both through enrollment increases, and an increasing proportion of Badgers being out-of-state and international students.

On the other side, student fees barely increased, and room and board revenues declined for 2019-20. The “Other Fees” listed did go up, which are basically fees for applications and placement tests, and special programs and courses that go beyond your typical tuition.

It's worth adding that Madison has more opportunities to receive funds from those “Other Fees” than the typical UW System school. And the two-sided story continues when you go back to the enrollment figures, and realize that there would be a much larger drop System-wide if you removed the flagship school. And the former UW Colleges (now known as “branch campuses”) are especially losing out.

UW enrollment change 2019-20
UW-Madison +879 (+2.0%)
Other UW main campuses -2,874 (-2.4%)
UW “branch campuses” -2,455 (-25.2%)

Which illustrates the folly of a decision System President Ray Cross made 2 years when he and the Walker-stacked Board of Regents unilaterally changed how the Colleges were going to operate. The enrollment decline led the college dropout that chairs the Assembly’s Colleges and Universities Committee to hint at an even bigger change in the future, as part of an alarming report by Wisconsin Public Radio.
Declining enrollment at the former UW Colleges was cited as a main driver of the restructuring when Cross announced in October 2017 that the state's two-year colleges would be merged with its four-year universities. At the time enrollment at all UW College campuses had already dropped by around 19 percent compared to 2010 figures.

State Rep. Dave Murphy, R-Greenville, advocated for the UW restructuring. Murphy said there were bright spots in the enrollment data with enrollments going up at UW-Madison, UW-Green Bay And UW-Superior, though he said, "Obviously the two-year campuses are really struggling."

"And there are campuses that may have to be closed in the future, and I think you need to keep it in mind," Murphy said. "Is it a little premature? Maybe, that we need to hold off and continue to look at it a little bit. But I think some time in the very near future some tough decisions might have to be made on those things."
Sounds like a way to make the 2-year Colleges and non-Madison campuses spiral downward through strangulation of resources, and require changes as a result of this dysfunction. Just the way the ALEC Crew likes it.

These enrollment and outside revenue figures reiterate how Madison is able to get more tuition revenue through more students, and more resources outside of tuition and state aid. Seems like all the more reason to break off Bucky from the rest of the system when it comes to state aid. This would be designed as a win-win where Madison is freed up from the handcuffs of regressive GOPs in the Legislature, and the other UW campuses that are struggling to stay afloat (especially the 2-year Colleges) get more state funds to protect against enrollment fluctuations that make it harder to get by.

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