GREEN BAY- Wisconsin students seeking to complete bachelor’s degrees will soon have more options through the state’s public higher education systems.
Seven innovative programs have been selected to receive a combined $500,000 in state funding following recommendations of the Committee on Baccalaureate Expansion (COBE), a joint committee of the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Technical College System. The committee has recommended several strategies that the two systems of public higher education could use to expand the number of Wisconsin citizens who hold four-year college degrees.
“It’s simple – the more Wisconsin citizens who hold college degrees, the more we can attract high-paying jobs, bolster the state tax base, and improve Wisconsin’s economy,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. “Wisconsin does have the expertise and drive to supply the graduates who can grow the state’s economy.”
The programs slated to receive the implementation grants all share the same goal – offering innovative baccalaureate degree-completion options to current UW and WTCS students, as well as to students who left higher education before earning four-year college degrees. Funding for these degree-completion programs was allocated in the 2005-07 state biennial budget.
“The state has made a wise investment by contributing funding to help students in Wisconsin complete four-year college degrees,” said Wisconsin Technical College Board President and Regent Brent Smith. “These programs can help the state take a big leap forward in creating a workforce that can keep Wisconsin competitive.”
The U.S. Census reports that higher-education attainment is consistently linked with per-capita income, according to a COBE report. For example, the report noted that workers who received a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, approximately one-third more than those who did not finish college, and twice as much as workers with only a high-school diploma.
“Graduating more students from college is only part of the solution,” said Wisconsin Department of Revenue Secretary Michael Morgan. “We also must continue to implement Governor Doyle’s Grow Wisconsin agenda to create high-quality jobs that will keep our graduates in state and attract highly skilled workers from outside Wisconsin. By pursuing both COBE and Grow Wisconsin initiatives, we will ensure greater economic vitality for the state of Wisconsin.”
According to COBE figures, Wisconsin would need to produce 72,000 more four-year college graduates by 2010 to equal the national average for the percentage of baccalaureate-degree holders in the state’s population, age 25 and older. The programs to be funded by the COBE implementation grants will enable the Wisconsin Technical College System and the UW System to take the first steps in helping to close this gap.
“As the needs of the workplace continue to evolve, career advancement opportunities for many technical college students will depend on the ease with which they can access further education and training,” said Wisconsin Technical College System President Daniel Clancy.
The recipients of the COBE grants include:
- NEW ERA Bachelor of Applied Studies Degree: This program is designed to serve working adults in northeastern Wisconsin, especially those who have already received an associate degree from one of the region’s four technical colleges. Using grant funding, UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh will offer a Bachelor’s of Applied Studies degree, which blends an applied concentration with a liberal-studies education. This degree will build upon existing nontraditional degree programs at the two UW institutions. Technical college associate degree graduates with a minimum 2.5 GPA will be able to enroll at either campus with junior standing and complete the degree program by taking approximately 60 credits of upper-level course work.
- Collaborative Pre-Health Joint Admission Program, Milwaukee Corridor to Nursing Degree Completion, Collaborative Pre-Business Joint Admission Degree Completion Program, Collaborative Pre-Engineering Associate in Science Degree Program. These four programs call for collaboration between UW-Milwaukee and Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) to further degree-completion opportunities for students in health care, nursing, business and engineering programs. Through these programs, students will be able to simultaneously enroll in classes at the two campuses to complete courses for both the associate and baccalaureate degree programs.
- UW-Stout COBE Initiative: The initiative will provide more-flexible degree options, primarily for Wisconsin Technical College students who are place-bound and/or working full time. UW-Stout will partner with one or more Wisconsin Technical Colleges in offering six undergraduate degree-completion programs, with an emphasis on online and distance-learning courses. Program areas include Early Childhood Education, Engineering Technology, Information Technology Management, Industrial Management, and Nanotechnology.
- UW North Central Consortium Project: This alliance will offer UW-Stevens Point upper-division courses at the UW-Marathon County and UW-Marshfield/Wood County two-year campuses. The program will use this grant to provide returning students with a seamless transition into baccalaureate-degree programs, without requiring travel to a four-year campus.
- Graduation Project: UW-Oshkosh will receive a grant to expand its Graduation Project. The program began as a pilot in 2004-05 by offering special re-enrollment incentives to 100 students who had left the campus between 1999 and 2003 with at least 105 credits, and a GPA of 2.5 or higher. The COBE grant will help expand the program to 1,500 students, including an academic adviser to work with participants.
- Baccalaureate Completion Project: UW-Superior will receive grant funding to hire graduate students and an academic adviser for a baccalaureate-completion pilot project. The campus will select 50 students from a pool of 400 who, from Fall 2000 to the present, left UW-Superior with junior standing. The campus hopes to have all 50 students enrolled for Spring 2007, and will partner with UW Colleges’ online-degree program to help students complete general education requirements.
- UW System Adult Student Outreach Pilot Proposal: UW System will use this grant funding to serve more adult and nontraditional students through the Adult Student Outreach Pilot Proposal. In collaboration with UW-Extension’s Higher Education Location Program (UW HELP) and the Wisconsin Technical College System, the program will provide outreach, electronic services, and advising for prospective adult students. The program will specifically invite adult learners who have interrupted their higher education, or who have earned an associate’s degree, to complete a bachelor’s degree through a residential or online program in the UW System.
“It is clear that Wisconsin citizens – particularly prospective adult students- are very interested in ways they can easily return to college to earn a four-year degree,” said Regent Chuck Pruitt. “These programs are the first in a long line of initiatives we expect will help us meet those goals.”
Grants will be awarded to these seven programs for use beginning in the 2006-07 academic year.