Fox Valley Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh have signed agreements allowing students to transfer liberal arts degrees to the state universities. The agreements are part of a major expansion of two-year liberal arts programs aimed at providing more pathways for students as enrollment at Wisconsin colleges and universities falls.
Fox Valley Technical College began enrolling students in two-year associate of arts and associate of science degree programs for the first time this week. The new offerings were made possible last spring, when the Wisconsin Technical College System Board and UW System Board of Regents approved a host of two-year liberal arts degrees at eight tech schools around the state.
Jennifer Lanter, Fox Valley Technical College’s vice president of learning, said the college’s students have always been able to take general education courses and transfer to state universities. But because Fox Valley is a two-year institution, those students didn’t qualify for federal financial aid.
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“So while for many students it was a great path to come here, take some general education classes and move on to a four-year institution, there was not a formalized method to do that that included financial aid,” Lanter said.
Now, Fox Valley students enrolled in associate of arts or associate of science programs can get financial aid, earn their degrees and then enroll at UW-Oshkosh or UW-Green Bay as juniors.
“So, what this does is insert into that third year a really nice set of students,” Lanter said. “And this has only been available here for a couple of weeks and I think we have 35 full-time students already enrolled. So students are interested.”
UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said the agreement creates a new avenue to higher education for new students and working adults. Leavitt said it’s also part of an ongoing trend of state universities collaborating with tech schools.
“This degree of cooperation that we now have between the tech college system and the UW certainly has intensified, increased since I’ve been here,” Leavitt said. “I’ve been here about eight years and we’re far more engaged with outside partners than we used to be.”
Despite a growing number of transfer agreements between technical colleges and state universities in recent years, the overall number of students transferring from tech colleges to UW schools fell by 23 percent between the 2014-15 school year and 2020-2021 school year, according to UW System data. Nationally, the number of transfers between institutions fell by 13 percent between 2020 and 2022, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
The UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System have both experienced years of enrollment declines as fewer high school graduates in the state pursue college degrees.
Between 2010 and 2022, enrollment across the UW’s 13 two-year colleges has fallen by nearly 57 percent. Between 2012 and 2022, enrollments across the state’s 16 state tech colleges has fallen by around 24 percent.
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