UW-Madison change concerns

Daily Editorial Board

Last week, a University of Wisconsin committee approved raising UW-Madison’s maximum number of out-of-state students. School administrators say an increased number of out-of-state students will be able to provide stronger talent to Wisconsin’s workforce. 
 
More out-of-state students — who pay about $20,000 more annually than in-state students — could prove very profitable to a university struggling with a $250 million budget cut.
 
Although this news comes from outside Minnesota’s borders, UW-Madison’s actions — presumably to increase revenues following a decrease in state funding — represent a worrying trend in higher education nationwide. In half of states, universities receive more funding from tuition dollars than they do from state support. At the University of Minnesota, tuition recently increased after state lawmakers declined to fund a tuition freeze. As universities grow increasingly dependent on tuition revenue, tactics like adjusting student caps or raising tuition may become more commonplace.
 
The UW-Madison student union has voiced its disapproval of raising the out-of-state student cap, claiming that allowing the university to accommodate more students would mean larger classes and reduced academic services. We agree with their concerns. Strategies that use student tuition to replace missing state funding affect students in a negative way.
 
Instead of worrying about the quality of Wisconsin’s workforce, Madison’s administrators should have focused on ensuring a quality education for the students they do have.
 
We urge lawmakers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and nationwide to continue to fund public universities so they remain accessible and affordable.