MADISON — An estimated 27,000 students received degrees this year at campuses throughout the University of Wisconsin System. According to a new report, the great majority of new bachelor’s degree graduates will stay in Wisconsin, and more than 98 percent of them will find employment.

The study indicates that more than 81 percent of Wisconsin-resident students in the UW System remain in the state after graduation. In addition, about 18 percent of the non-residents remain here, creating a brain gain for the state’s workforce.

UW System President Katharine Lyall will discuss the study at the next Board of Regents meeting, scheduled for June 7-8 in Milwaukee.

The report indicates that, among all new UW System alumni now living in Wisconsin — regardless of their state of origin — about 98.5 percent are currently employed, attending school, or caring for family members.

“That means that for every thousand alumni in the sample, only 15 were unemployed when the survey was taken,” said Lyall. “That really underscores what we’ve been saying for some time: our graduates have skills that are in high demand by Wisconsin employers. If the opportunities exist, there’s no place alumni would rather work than in Wisconsin.”

Lyall added that it is critical for the state and the UW System to maintain and enhance this high level of alumni retention. “For that to happen, our state has to become more competitive,” she said, “in terms of high-tech job opportunities, salaries, investment and other issues addressed at the Wisconsin Economic Summit and in the Board of Regents’ Economic Stimulus Package, which is now before the legislature. Given the tools, the UW System can do even more to contribute college graduates to the workforce and attract bright people to Wisconsin.”

According to the report, which deals exclusively with recent graduates, 64.7 percent were earning $30,000 or more when the survey was taken, while 30.5 percent were earning $40,000 or more and 14.3 percent were earning $50,000 or more.

The occupational categories with the highest percentage of alumni earning $30,000 or more were engineering (93.5 percent) and computer and information science (91.8 percent). The categories with the lowest percentage of alumni earning $30,000 or more were education (40.2 percent) and communications (44.5 percent).

Based on the survey, the UW System estimates that each graduating class contributes about $210 million more in income to the Wisconsin economy than it would have with high school diplomas alone.

The report is based on the ACT Alumni Outcomes Survey, conducted in June 2000. Approximately 59,000 people received bachelor’s degrees in the UW System during 1996, 1997 and 1998, and about 13,000 of them were chosen at random for the survey. Nearly 3,300 responses were received, or more than 25 percent of those contacted.

The presentation at the June Board of Regents meeting is part of the UW System’s ongoing effort to assess its performance in terms of the outcomes for major stakeholders, such as students, alumni and employers.

Media Contact

Erik Christianson UW System 608-262-5061