This policy was repealed as of December 2, 2019. See the notice in SYS 505 1105 1125 Rescission Memo pdf .

Issued: October 29, 2001

UW System institutions may gain financial and other benefits from allowing advertising and sponsorship in university electronic publications, including World Wide Web pages and other network communications. Similarly, it may be useful and convenient to create links from university electronic publications to other sites on the internet. These benefits, however, must be balanced against the university’s interests in protecting its reputation and image, avoiding the appearance of endorsing specific commercial products or activities, and ensuring that advertising and sponsorship activities do not have negative effects on the delivery of educational services. This policy document sets forth the UW System’s standards and guidance on appropriate advertising, sponsorship and linking activities in university electronic publications.


Advertising is any advertisement, signage, label, packaging, imprint, logo, sales promotion activity or device, public relations material or events, merchandising or other activity or communication that has the obvious intent of promoting or marketing a non-University product, service, event, or organization.

Sponsorship is non-university underwriting of a specific university event, publication or special activity (such as a scholarship fund drive) that represents the equivalent of a gift-in-kind or a gift of money insofar as the non-University sponsor provides or pays for promotion, materials, awards, and/or other items or services of value related to the specific event, publication or special activity. Sponsorship or acknowledgements of sponsorship are not advertising as defined in this policy.

University Electronic Publications are electronic publications published by, or on behalf of, a UW System institution or institutional sub-unit, and may be either academic or non-academic, as follows:

  • Academic University Electronic Publications include, but are not limited to school, college, and departmental brochures, periodicals, bulletins, catalogs, timetables, journals, etc., connected to the core academic mission of the University.
  • Non-Academic University Electronic Publications include, but are not limited to, programs for cultural, community, entertainment, and athletic events; information handbooks; directories; and materials intended for non-student audiences.


The primary purpose of academic university electronic publications is to support the academic mission of the university. Accordingly, non-university advertising in academic university electronic publications is prohibited, except:

  • Where the advertising promotes university products and programs to audiences internal to the university; or
  • Where the chancellor or his or her designee has determined that special circumstances exist which warrant granting an exception to the general prohibition on advertising.

Advertising in non-academic university electronic publications is permitted where it conforms to applicable institutional policies on acceptable advertising in other media.

To avoid confusion between academic and non-academic activities, UW System institutions permitting advertising in university electronic publications should use domain names other than “.edu.” Other possibilities include “.com” and “.net”


Sponsorship is permitted in both academic and nonacademic university electronic publications. Acknowledgement of a sponsorship is limited to providing the following information, and must otherwise comply with applicable institutional policies:

  • Name of the sponsor.
  • Purpose to which the sponsorship was directed.
  • A sponsor’s location, both geographical and on the World Wide Web.
  • Non-comparative, value-neutral descriptions of the product or services.
  • A sponsor’s institutional goals or a public service message.
  • A sponsor’s brand or trade names, including depictions of the same.
  • A sponsor’s bona fide text or visual logo.
  • The length of time a sponsor has been in business or the date its business commenced.
  • A sponsor’s telephone number.
  • A “hot” link to a sponsor’s external World Wide Web pages.

Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT)

UW institutions must comply with UBIT laws and regulations applicable to advertising and sponsorship in academic and non-academic university electronic publications.


Links from university electronic publications to other internet sites are permitted, but must be related to the university’s core missions of teaching research and service, and must not imply University endorsement of the external site products or services.

  • Disclaimers should be included on Web pages if linking to a commercial site could imply endorsement. An appropriate disclaimer is: “Links on these pages to external sites do not represent endorsement by the University of Wisconsin-X.”
  • Links should open a new, smaller browser window whenever possible.
  • When linking to an external internet site, the publication should attempt to make it clear that the user is leaving the University’s domain.