MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will review the System’s annual performance and discuss funding needs for the 2013-15 budget cycle at Thursday’s meeting in Madison.
This will mark System’s 18th annual accountability report, addressing a broad range of performance measures. Regents will also review two new accountability reports that address new reporting requirements provided by the State Legislature.
“UW System was among the first to publish an accountability report focused on access, degree completion, and stewardship of resources. Today, we are enhancing those efforts with new quality indicators provided by the state government,” said UW Board of Regents President Brent Smith. “As we bring forward our initial recommendations for the next biennial budget, it seems fitting that we also take a hard look at our past performance, with an eye toward enhancing positive outcomes for all students and Wisconsin citizens.”
Act 32, the 2011-13 budget bill, required one accountability report from UW-Madison and one for the balance of UW System institutions, each report addressing almost 40 specific metrics. Among other new reporting requirements, the Legislature requires UW institutions to measure job placement of graduates and the number of new businesses that grew out of university research.
“These reports provide Wisconsin residents with a clear picture of how we’re making progress toward the goals that we’ve set. Beyond traditional measures like enrollments, retention rates, graduation, and resource management, we also look at UW System’s impact on job creation and economic development,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly.
Data show that Wisconsin’s public universities are preserving broad access to a college education. While 24% of the nation’s high school graduates enroll at public universities, 32% of Wisconsin high school graduates enrolled at a UW institution in Fall 2010. Access for transfer students continues to increase across the UW System, with more than 15,000 new transfers – a 3.1% increase.
A record 34,608 UW degrees were conferred in 2010-11, up from 33,442 the prior year. Nearly one in five of those degrees came in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Degrees in health-related disciplines made up more than 8% of the total degrees awarded. Students today are completing their degrees with fewer credits, reducing costs for families and institutions alike.
Data in the reports show UW System’s continued emphasis on operational efficiency. In 2009, the most recent data available, the UW System’s four-year institutions spent 47% less than the national average on administrative overhead per student.
“This strong evidence of increased productivity is encouraging, showing that we are good stewards of public resources,” said Reilly. “We must sustain that high level of efficient performance while focusing on metrics that need improvement.”
Participation in study abroad programs declined slightly last year, involving 14.4% of degree recipients, compared to 15% the previous year. Freshman-sophomore retention rates to the same UW institution slipped from 80.8% in Fall 2009 to 79.6%. The rate at which students graduated from the same campus where they enrolled as freshmen (59.3%) remained nearly flat. However, the five-year trend for both measures shows improvement, with UW System’s retention and graduation rates continuing to exceed national averages.
“We will have a good discussion about these and other measures with the Regents, and we’ll deliver a complete set of reports to the Governor and every Legislator,” said Reilly.
2013-15 Biennial Budget
In September of each biennium, the UW’s request must be submitted to the state’s Department of Administration for consideration as part of the Governor’s executive budget, which is typically released in February.
“Wisconsin’s fiscal condition has begun showing signs of improvement, and state revenues should be a bit stronger,” said Reilly. “In this more favorable budget environment, we will seek opportunities to strengthen our educational contribution to workforce development and partnerships with industry. With a reinvestment by the state, we can help power Wisconsin’s economic resurgence and avoid large tuition increases.”
Last week, Gov. Scott Walker issued his budget instructions to the UW System and state agencies. Those instructions did not direct the university to plan for base budget reductions, and they specifically exempted the UW System from additional funding lapses that had already been imposed for the 2013-15 budget.
“The Governor is committed to positioning the State of Wisconsin for economic recovery, and so are we,” said Reilly.
Reilly will recommend a modest budget that calls for a $21-million investment for new initiatives over two years. Under “block grant” flexibility granted to the UW System by the Governor and the Legislature in the past budget, funds will be distributed to the universities, colleges, and extension networks to increase student success and stimulate economic development.
Included in the budget request will be funding to advance UW System’s new Flexible Degree Initiative, designed to make a UW degree more attractive and more attainable for working-age adults.
As part of the two-year budget request, the UW System has identified high-need capital projects at campuses throughout the state, to be funded through a mix of state-funded bonds, fee-supported bonds, and private gifts.
UW System’s 2013-15 capital request will seek $187 million in new state-supported bonding for four major construction projects:
- UW-La Crosse Science Labs facility
- UW-Stevens Point Biology-Chemistry building
- UW-Madison Chemistry addition/renovation
- UW-Madison Agriculture facilities
Another 15 facilities would be funded with $245.6 million in bonding exclusively through UW program revenue. These projects include new residence halls, recreational facilities, student unions, and conference centers to replace outdated facilities and accommodate growing student demand.
“This capital budget proposal addresses needs related to UW teaching and research, while also creating new jobs. It translates into $1.7-billion worth of economic activity statewide, more than 13,000 Wisconsin jobs, and $589 million in wages,” said Reilly.
For information on UW System’s biennial budget recommendation, see the Board of Regents’ full August meeting agenda.
David F. Giroux
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