MADISON — A large majority of Wisconsin residents believe the University of Wisconsin System is a “critical part of the state’s economy and quality of life” and “should receive additional state support to preserve and increase its value to Wisconsin citizens.”

That’s one result of a statewide survey conducted in mid-October by Chamberlain Research Consultants on behalf of the UW System. Of the 600 persons polled, 48% “strongly agreed” with that statement and 34.3% “somewhat agreed,” a total of 82.3%.

When asked to rank order a list of nine state funding priorities, those surveyed listed “College Opportunities for Students” as their third highest priority, behind “K-12 Education” and “Health Care for the Poor.” The remaining priorities, in order of preference, were “Tax Relief,” “Environmental and Conservation Programs,” “Welfare to Work,” “Revenue Sharing With Local Governments,” “Transportation Improvements,” and “Prison Capacity.”

When asked whether the state should increase, decrease or not change its overall level of financial support for the UW System, 59.5% favored increased support and 33% favored no change in support.

UW System President Katharine Lyall announced the survey results during today’s meeting of the Board of Regents.

“This research suggests there’s a great deal of support for the UW System in Wisconsin,” said Lyall, “and widespread agreement that the state’s economic future is tied to the fortunes of the university. We heard that a lot at last week’s Wisconsin Economic Summit: people around the state are looking to us for leadership as we attempt to foster more high-tech, high-growth industries, such as biotechnology. ”

“What’s more,” said Lyall, “people are willing to pay with their tax dollars in order to support the mission of the UW System. I think that’s a very encouraging sign as we head into the next biennial budget cycle.”

Lyall said the survey results are being shared with the governor and legislative leaders. “Governor Thompson and the leaders of both parties in both houses appreciate and support the UW System,” she said. “At the Summit, they pledged to provide as much funding as they can to meet the needs of our students and our institutions. These survey results show that the people of Wisconsin agree: the UW System is one of their highest priorities and they want the state to increase its support of college opportunities for students.”

The UW System survey questions were asked during October 10-23 as part of a larger, pre-election poll conducted by Chamberlain. The margin of error was approximately ± 4%.


UW System Survey Questions and Results

Chamberlain Research Consultants:
UW System Survey Questions and Results
October 10-23, 2000
Sample Size: 600
Margin of Error: ± 3.97%


“First I am going to read you a list of things that typically receive state funds. Based on your personal opinion, please rank each of the following state spending responsibilities using a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest spending priority and 10 being the highest spending priority.”

1. Kindergarten through 12th grade education Mean = 8.45
2. Health care for the poor Mean = 7.62
3. College opportunities for students Mean = 7.31
4. Tax relief Mean = 7.27
5. Environmental and conservation programs Mean = 6.77
6. Welfare to work Mean = 6.70
7. Revenue sharing with local governments Mean = 6.19
8. Transportation improvements Mean = 6.15
9. Prison capacity Mean = 5.53

“In the past 25 years, state support for the university system has dropped from 52% of the system’s total budget to 34% of the system’s total budget. Do you think the state should be increasing, decreasing, or not changing its overall support for the university system?”

Increasing overall support 59.5%
Decreasing overall support 3.7%
Overall support should not change 33.0%
Unsure 3.8%

“Please tell me if you agree or disagree with the following statement: The university system is a critical part of Wisconsin’s economy and quality of life, and should receive additional state support to preserve and increase its value to Wisconsin citizens . . and is that strongly or somewhat agree/disagree.”

Strongly agree 48.0%
Somewhat agree 34.3%
Somewhat disagree 10.5%
Strongly disagree 4.2%
Unsure 2.5%
Refused 0.5%


Kevin Boatright, UW System
(608) 263-2227