UW Officials Worry About Support Services, Staff At 2-Year Colleges As Restructure Continues

UW System President: New Investment In Student Services At 2-Year Schools Needed In Next Budget

college students studying
Michael Barker Studio (CC BY-NC-ND)

University of Wisconsin officials say new investments are needed for student support services at the state’s two-year schools as they become part of the state’s four-year universities in a massive restructuring.

During the Board of Regents meeting Friday at UW-La Crosse, the regents were updated on the restructuring of UW Colleges and UW-Extension. Over the last year, officials have been working to make the state’s two-year colleges and extension programs satellite programs of the system’s four-year universities.

At the meeting, UW System President Ray Cross said one of his biggest concerns about the restructure is the budget for the two-year colleges’ student support services, like financial aid and tutoring.

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“The student support activities on these campuses were depleted in many ways and now how do we restore that in a way that makes sense? And that’s going to require some investment,” Cross said.

Cross said it will take the infusion of new money in the next state budget to bring student support services at the two-year schools up to the same level as the partnering four-year schools.

Robert Cramer, vice president for administration, said he believes the greatest risk to the restructuring project is maintaining services staff at UW Colleges until the transitions to the new campuses are made.

“(For) some of those individuals November of 2019 is kind of the end of their employment. So how do we maintain (staffing)?” Cramer said.

Cramer said staffing changes could expedite the transition of services to the new institutions and that system officials continue to monitor staffing levels at the two-year schools.

A formal plan for staff transitions from UW Colleges and UW-Extension will be discussed in January. Cramer said the system will also make plans for transferring assets, finances and records at the January meeting.

Also at the meeting Friday, regents signed off on millions of dollars of tuition increases for out-of-state and graduate students at UW-Madison over the next two academic years, according to The Associated Press.

The plan calls for raising non-resident undergraduate tuition $810 and $828 to generate about $16 million in additional revenue.

Increases in the university’s professional schools include raising School of Business tuition by nearly 10 percent annually, generating about $1.7 million; raising tuition for resident medical doctor students by 5 percent annually and non-resident students by 8 percent annually; and increasing tuition for law students by $2,000 annually, generating about $1.2 million per year, according to AP.

The regents approved the increases unanimously without any discussion.

Editor’s note: Wisconsin Public Radio is a service of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.