As Wisconsin policymakers craft the next state budget, I urge them to consider the invaluable benefits the University of Wisconsin System brings to all parts of the state.

The governor and legislature have shared priorities to improve wages and attract and retain talent to meet workforce demands. That’s why, as graduates walk across the stage this month, there’s no better time to remind Wisconsinites about the incredible return on investment – for individuals, communities, and the state – provided by our 13 UW System institutions.

Students undergo social growth, often travel out of the country for the first time, and engage in research with talented faculty. Those experiences make our graduates strong neighbors and citizens. Increasingly, however, students and parents connect a university degree to employment opportunities and wage growth. So consider this:

  • A groundbreaking U.S. Census Bureau study found that graduates from one-third of UW-Madison majors had median annual earnings of more than $60,000 within five years of earning a bachelor’s degree – more than the Wisconsin household median. UW changes lives. Overall, college graduates understand their own investment pays dividends – $1 million more in earnings over their lifetimes compared to non-graduates.
  • The education our graduates receive propels them into careers and prepares them for the workforce. For example, at UW-Stout, 98.7 percent of graduates are employed or in continuing education six months after graduation, 87 percent of them related to their major. Of those working, the average first-year salary is $43,000.
  • In 2017-18, more than 36 percent of UW-Oshkosh graduates who came from out-of-state remained in Wisconsin after graduation, up from 23 percent the year before. About 88 percent of UW-Oshkosh’s Wisconsin resident graduates remain in Wisconsin. Across the UW System, 81 percent of in-state UW System graduates remain in the state after graduation.
  • Graduates from numerous UW System campuses, including UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout, and UW-Whitewater, use social media and other channels to proclaim success at landing a job even before walking across the stage to receive their diplomas. Check them out on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

It’s clear we are striving to meet Wisconsin’s needs. Now, we are looking to exceed expectations by offering solutions to some of Wisconsin’s more pressing issues.

We are graduating more students than ever before – a record 36,825 at all levels in 2018. We expect the final figures for 2019 to be equivalent or higher. That means we’re helping solve Wisconsin’s employment challenges by providing needed employees. It also means we’re doing better than ever before in helping students progress through college, earn their degrees, and enter our talent pipeline.

An investment in the University of Wisconsin System will help us continue these successes and generate more graduates — especially in high-need areas like nursing, engineering, business, computer science, information technology, and data science. Across the System, our campuses have plans to expand in these vital areas through our 2019-21 state budget capacity-building initiatives.

Moreover, our faculty generate groundbreaking research that improves lives and communities and often leads to new companies and patents. The 13 UW universities throughout Wisconsin are regional hubs of cultural and economic life.

If policymakers want to invest in the future of where we all work and live, the University of Wisconsin System represents an excellent return on investment.

The University of Wisconsin System serves more than 170,000 students. Awarding 36,000 degrees annually, the UW System is Wisconsin’s talent pipeline, putting graduates in position to increase their earning power, contribute to their communities, and make Wisconsin a better place to live. More than 80 percent of UW System graduates stay in Wisconsin five years after earning a degree. The UW System provides a 23:1 return on state investment. UW System institutions also contribute to the richness of Wisconsin’s culture and economy with groundbreaking research, new companies and patents, and boundless creative intellectual energy.

Media Contact

Mark Pitsch UW System (608) 265-3419