“The Measuring Up 2004 report is useful as a national yardstick against which the University of Wisconsin System – and the state – can measure its progress, and we are very mindful of where UW stands in the rankings. We are holding our own, but there are definitely warning signs on the horizon.
“We are delighted to note that Wisconsin has actually improved in three categories over the past decade. The report notes that there has been ‘notable improvement over the past decade in the proportion of students earning their degrees in a timely manner.’ This is a tribute to our campuses that have worked hard on improving retention and graduation rates.
“However, the report also concerns us, as it highlights a major national trend – the dramatic increase in the cost of higher education, which is pricing lower-income students out of our enterprise.
“I am confident that we can improve Wisconsin’s rankings in nearly every category with the measures adopted by our Board of Regents in its 2005-07 funding request to the state.
“This report supports the Regents’ case that Wisconsin needs a strong university system to spur economic development and reinforces our commitment to work with the technical and private colleges to increase the number of state residents with a college degree.
“Increased financial aid is also critical to Wisconsin’s future – and with it will come improved rankings in future years. Minnesota is among the states that rank ahead of us in affordability, even though their flagship campus tuition is higher than ours. Increased financial aid would make us more competitive.
“I remain optimistic about the future of the university and Wisconsin because we have a lot going for us – and because we have strong support from the Governor, legislators, and the citizens of the state who aspire to see these grades improve.”