UW-System To Study Consolidation Of Branch Campuses + Technical Colleges
The landscape of higher education in Wisconsin could look a lot different in the future. While that phrase could generally be applied, there is a specific movement afoot that might make it happen. Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson - currently serving as the Interim President of the University of Wisconsin System - is "exploring the possibility of consolidation between the System's branch campuses and Wisconsin Technical College System institutions" - according to news sources.
For the time being the review is all about discussion. Thompson is quick to point out that he's not calling the prospects a "merger" - it's all about finding efficiencies:
"We have a lot of buildings, lots of duplication, and I want to sit down, discuss it and come up with a solution. I'm not saying one (system) is better or one should be the only survivor. I'm saying let's discuss it before the problem gets any worse."
According to news sources, one of the main issues is the amount of physical buildings for both systems that exist geographically near each other. "Many of the System's branch campuses are geographically close to a state technical college campuses. Collaboration could help address enrollment decline and save money when budgets statewide are strained".
Another issue at play - for both systems - is that tuition has been static for "13 of the past 5 years". That flat-line budget line has existed during the same time as rising costs throughout both systems.
The proposal for review isn't without it's critics. Many in the state technical college system have concerns that the whole idea sounds like consolidation. The State Technical College President Morna Foy says that she "doesn't support any proposal that involves [the] UW-System assuming responsibility for a technical college". She also doubted community support.
Additionally, many point to the similar-but-ultimately different missions for both systems. The University campus system is "geared towards students seeking a liberal arts education who may eventually transfer to a four-year university". Meanwhile, "the overwhelming majority of technical college students are part time, adult learners seeking technical skills, certificates, or apprenticeships".