Restructuring Rationale

Why restructure UW Colleges and UW-Extension?

The purpose of this restructure is to keep campuses open and expand access to higher education by leveraging the strength of our four-year institutions at a time when overall enrollments at UW Colleges are declining.  The primary objectives of integrating UW Colleges with four-year and research institutions include:

  • Expanding access to higher education by offering more courses at the two-year campuses
  • Identifying and reducing barriers to transferring credits within the UW System
  • Maintaining affordability by continuing existing tuition levels post-integration for courses currently offered at the two-year institutions
  • Further standardizing and regionalizing administrative operations and services to more efficiently use resources
  • Leveraging resources and shared talent at our institutions to get more students into and through the educational pipeline successfully, better aligning the university to meet Wisconsin’s projected workforce needs

What were the challenges that led to this proposal?

A combination of different factors led to the restructuring:

  • Enrollment: There has been a 32% decline in the number of full-time equivalent students at UW Colleges since 2010.
  • Budget: UW Colleges has already done a great deal of restructuring to help manage declining enrollments and budget reductions, and we thank all who may have been involved or are already affected by those efforts. The restructuring will allow the UW System to better address long-term enrollment and financial challenges at the two-year institutions, while maintaining the important UW presence in local communities.
  • Economy: There is a need for closer alignment between research and practice as we help the state meet its broader economic and workforce needs.

Does the restructuring call for closing any UW Colleges campus?

No, all campuses will remain open. The restructuring will allow the UW System to better address current and projected enrollment and financial challenges at the two-year institutions, while maintaining the important UW presence in local communities.

What kind of cost savings will this achieve?

The UW System has been engaged in ongoing consolidation and streamlining efforts as part of its Commitment to Operational Reform and Excellence (CORE) project. The intersection of the CORE project and the restructuring of UW Colleges and Extension will allow for even greater standardization of processes across campuses and the regionalization of services. This will have a long-term impact that will generate savings due to greater operational efficiencies, while improving the services provided to students, faculty, and staff.


When would the restructuring of UW Colleges and UW-Extension go into effect?

The Higher Learning Commission approval of the UW System’s restructuring application on June 29 allows for the restructure to go into effect on July 1, 2018. During Phase 1 of the restructuring (July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019), the two-year branch campuses will continue to function largely as they do now, while preparing to internally integrate administrative functions, such as IT, HR, and procurement with UW System services. Student support services, such as admissions and financial aid processing, will continue to be administered by the two-year campuses.

Which two-year campus is assigned to which four-year or research institution?

Each two-year institution has been joined with a four-year comprehensive and research institution as a branch campus.   See the UW System Restructuring Map showing the new affiliations.

What criteria were used in pairing two-year campuses with four-year and research institutions?

A variety of factors were examined including geographic proximity, transfer rates, existing partnerships, and programmatic compatibility.

What will the name of the campus be after July 1, 2018?

Two-year institutions will keep their same name in the immediate future. If a receiving four-year institution chose to change the name of a branch campus, such a change would require (1) Board of Regents approval, (2) UW must remain in the campus name, (3) stakeholders must have a voice in the process, specifically with county/city that has a collaborative MOU with the campus, (4) receiving institutions must hold focus groups to hear input from community stakeholders and prospective customers.

Will you work with shared governance on the restructuring?

Shared governance groups are integral to this process, and the Steering Committee includes faculty, staff, and student representatives from each governance group who attend meetings as part of the planning and implementation process.

What support services are being streamlined? Will I have to go to a four-year institution to receive services, such as career counseling or student advising?

A key goal of the restructuring is to improve services provided to students, faculty, and staff. The exact configuration of services long-term will be determined during implementation planning.

What is going to happen to the foundations affiliated with the two-year institutions?

Foundations are independent entities that exist to support the university, and it is expected the alumni support of each two-year campus will continue.

UW Extension

Where are the divisions within UW-Extension being assigned?

The following units of UW-Extension will be administered by UW-Madison and UW System Administration:

UW-Madison UW System Administration
Cooperative Extension
UW Conference Centers
Division of Broadcasting and Media Innovation (BAMI)
Division of Business and Entrepreneurship (DBE)
Division of Continuing Education, Outreach, and E- Learning (CEOEL)
Wisconsin Humanities Council
Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service (WIPPS)

How will the UW-Extension restructuring affect 4-H?

4-H is an important resource for Wisconsin communities, and it will continue throughout the state. The Cooperative Extension Division of UW-Extension will become part of UW-Madison.


Is additional housing planned at the two-year institutions after they become integrated campuses?

No additional housing is being currently planned but if enrollment improves dramatically, this will be considered.

What happens with the buildings at the two-year institutions?

The land and buildings on which the Colleges are operated are owned by counties and municipalities. The land and buildings are subject to long-term leases with the UW System. This restructuring should not have any effect on that arrangement.

How can I provide more detailed feedback?

Submit your questions about the restructuring online. We will continue to update our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on a regular basis as new information becomes available.


Contact Us

Questions about the Fall 2018, Spring 2019, and Summer 2019 semesters, contact:

  • Admissions: 888-INFO-UWC (463-6892)
  • Financial Aid: 608-262-5928
  • General questions: 888-INFO-UWC (463-6892)

For questions regarding the Fall 2019 semester, contact the affiliated four-year institution.

What's Your Question?

If you have a question about the restructuring and do not see your answer here, please feel free to submit your questions about the proposal online.

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