Friday, June 02, 2006

Fiction Can Be Fun for UW Critics

Some conservatives are up in arms that the UW is proposing an increase in resident tuition along with a decrease in non-resident tuition.

Of course, they are ignoring the fact that UW resident tuition, in spite of all the recent increases, is still lower than resident tuition at peer universities, while non-resident tuition at the UW is higher than non-resident tuition at peer universities.

Also, in terms of real dollars, non-resident tuition has been increasing at well over twice the rate of resident tuition in recent years. Between 2000-2001 and 2004-2005, UW non-resident tuition increased an average of $4910, while resident tuition increased an average of $1770 during that same time (see here, pages iv-v).

This has led to a drop in non-resident UW enrollment of nearly 600 students between 2001-2002 and 2005-2006, which is a concerning trend for the system.

But the prize for the most unfounded allegation on this issue must go to frequent UW critic Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater).

In a press release today, Nass makes this comment: “There is no question that the non-resident tuition and foreign student tuition cut is related to the change in UW System admission practices to weigh non-academic criteria higher than academic performance.”

First, the new admission standards do not weigh non-academic criteria higher than academic performance.

Second, residency is not mentioned once as a factor in the new non-academic criteria.

Third, the campus that attacts 44% more non-resident students (see here) and 17% more international students (see here) than the rest of the campuses combined, UW-Madison, is not changing its admission criteria at all – it's used holistic admission standards for years.

And, over the past decade, the number of non-resident students at UW-Madison has only increased by 318 in spite of holistic standards (see here), while the international student population on the campus has increased by merely 3 students since 1998-1999 (see here and here).

It’s not unusual for Republicans in the state to take swipes at the UW System. It seems to have become a hobby for some.

But while constructive criticism and oversight are always welcome and useful, conflating various falsehoods into a single misleading statement is anything but desirable for the state.

UPDATE: The non-resident tuition cuts do not apply to UW-Madison, which negates my point about the majority of non-resident students attending that campus. However, my follow-up point about UW-Madison's holistic admissions not having any impact on increasing non-resident or international enrollment holds.

Plus, when considering the recent drop in non-resident enrollment at the 4-year UW campuses other than UW-Madison, the figure is even steeper than what I cited in the post. After taking out UW-Madison, the figure of nearly 600 fewer non-resident students between 2001-2002 and 2005-2006 increases to over 700 fewer non-resident students during that time.

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