Outgoing UW-Madison Interim Chancellor Questions Tuition Freeze


Outgoing University of Wisconsin-Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward says that a legislature-mandated tuition freeze without any larger debate is wrong.

The Assembly today passed the state budget that includes a tuition freeze for the university system for the next two years. The budget now heads to the state Senate for debate.

Legislators are seeking a freeze after an audit revealed that the UW System had a $648-million surplus – much of that coming from student tuition payments. Ward addressed the issue at a Madison rotary meeting today.

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“I think that we were right to be dinged, but I’m not sure simply moving to a freeze without some thoughtful policy debate about what tuition ought to be and how it should be delivered [isn’t] a mistake.”

He says before legislators moved forward with a freeze, there should have been more dialogue about how much tuition should be, and how much of that the state should subsidize.

“We should be using [the surpluses] to keep tuition down. But there’s no context about what is reasonable tuition. What is a reasonable amount that should be paid?”

Ward says that currently students or parents cover roughly half of the cost of tuition at UW, and the state covers the other half. He notes that tuition at UW-Madison is about $5,000 less than at its main competitors- Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan.

Ward came out of retirement to serve as interim chancellor and will be succeeded by new chancellor Rebecca Blank on July 15.