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UW System Contact: Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 262-6448

June 8, 2000

UW System Enrollment Plan Focuses on Working Adults

MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents took action today (06/08/00) on a new enrollment planning strategy for the next decade that maintains the system's traditionally high access rate to Wisconsin high school graduates, while making it a priority to increase services to working adults.

"We're finding increased student demand among adults," said UW System President Katharine C. Lyall. "They're looking for opportunities to earn certificates, bachelor's and advanced degrees, primarily for career related purposes. As the state's economy is becoming more 'knowledge-based,' the UW System must respond with appropriate educational services," said Lyall.

Enrollment Management 21 (EM-21) is the fourth comprehensive enrollment plan for the UW System since 1987. The UW System began managing its enrollments in the mid-1980's in order to sustain educational quality in the face of significant budget shortfalls and to use its educational resources more effectively. At that time, some campuses were badly overcrowded and others were underutilized.

The first two enrollment management plans redistributed enrollments across institutions to optimize their capacities and help gradually to bring support per student up to the national average.

The current plan focuses on modest growth at the undergraduate level to maintain the UW System's traditionally high access to Wisconsin high school graduates, and makes it a priority to increase service to the adult student market in keeping with student demand and state economic development needs.

Overall, the System plan would increase enrollments by about 2,900 full time equivalent students. To achieve these targets, the following institutions are earmarked for growth:

    • UW-Milwaukee, 16 percent
    • UW-River Falls, 11 percent
    • UW-Platteville, 10 percent, and
    • UW Colleges, 9 percent.

Small declines are planned for Green Bay and La Crosse to align resources with enrollments. Stable enrollments or slight growth mark the remaining institutions.

"The knowledge economy and per capita income growth are increasingly driven by advanced education," said Lyall.

To meet the needs of adult students, institutions will:

    • Offer flexible scheduling packages and course delivery options
    • Provide ancillary services
    • Implement degree completion programs
    • Provide more geographic dispersion
    • Work with area employers to develop programs to meet training needs
    • Provide more Certificate and customized Master's degree programs

UW System institutions have a number of adult initiatives already under way or in development to serve nontraditional students.

UW-Eau Claire has a storefront center to provide student services in one convenient location and has a partnership with UW-Stout on the Chippewa Valley Initiative.

UW-Milwaukee has an Office of Adult Services which is the first point of entry for adult students. The campus also provides support on pre-admission advising, registration, orientation programs and academic counseling.

UW-Stout has created Stout Solutions, a one-stop shop that provides service to business, industry, education and government seeking customized learning and research.

UW-Oshkosh is using Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) Best Practices in Adult Education to develop a model for life-long learning and build relationships with adults in the Fox Valley area. CAEL is a national leader in the fields of adult learning and workforce.

UW-Madison has a Master's degree program in Engineering Professional Practice available via distance education, capstone and graduate certificate programs, and an evening MBA program.

UW Colleges have advisors trained to meet the needs of students both in academic and career planning, and in recruitment and retention. For fall 2000, 17 courses will be offered on-line. Evening courses have increased 21 percent over the past two years. In addition, several partnerships have been formed with 4-year institutions to offer bachelor's degree completion programs at Colleges campuses.

UW System institutions already offer 56 undergraduate and 99 graduate degree programs during evenings or weekends, or by methods such as distance learning technology, that enable working adults to work and yet complete their education. New offerings in the last year and a half include:

UW-Parkside: An evening MBA program.

UW-Platteville: Master's of Engineering via the Internet.

UW-Stevens Point: Master's of Science in Natural Resources and Master's of Arts in Education.

UW-Stout: Master's of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management: Global Hospitality.

UW-La Crosse: Several Master's of Science options in Exercise and Sports.

UW-Whitewater: Master's of Science in Education in the School of Psychology.

UW-River Falls: Master's in Management.

In addition, certificate programs, which require less time to complete, have been and are being developed, such as a certificate in geo-demographic information systems (GIS) at UW-Madison.

Taken together, Lyall said the elements of EM-21 ensure a continued high access rate for resident undergraduates, expand services to working adults, and ensure that the UW System is a driving partner in the state's economic strategy for the future.

The Regents approved two amendments to the EM-21 plan, aimed at helping students successfully complete their academic programs. The first said that the Board of Regents was committed to reducing the number of credits to degree and will look at setting a new target goal. The current average number of attempted credits to degree is 140. The second amendment stated that the Board will review the current four-year guarantee program to possibly extend the guarantee to five years, since few students take advantage of the four-year guarantee.

In approving the EM21 plan, the Regents directed that budgetary amounts necessary to carry out the campus enrollment plans be included in the draft 2001-03 UW System biennial budget request which will be voted on by the Board in August.

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