MADISON, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Madison students ripped a plan to lift the school's cap on out-of-state undergraduates Tuesday, saying the move will lead to larger classes and justifying the change as a way to pump new talent into state's workforce makes no sense.
UW System rules currently cap the number of out-of-state students at 27.5 percent of the undergraduate population at each campus. UW-Madison officials plan to ask the Board of Regents' education committee on Thursday to lift their cap for four years beginning in fall 2016.
The move would generate more revenue for the university as it grapples with budget cuts since out-of-state students pay about $20,000 more per year than in-state students. University officials insist the move isn't about the money but providing new talent for Wisconsin's workforce as in-state enrollment continues to dip.
But Associated Students of Madison, UW-Madison's student group, said in a letter Tuesday to Chancellor Rebecca Blank and system President Ray Cross the school can't accommodate a larger student population and predicted ballooning class sizes and reduced academic services.
The group also refuted the school's contention that out-of-state talent will help the workforce. Few out-of-state students stay in Wisconsin after graduating, the organization said, so if the university really wants to bolster the workforce it should step up in-state recruiting.
"The argument that waiving the out of state tuition caps will increase talent, talent that cannot be found in Wisconsin applicants is simply absurd," the letter said.
Providing access to in-state students is the school's "top priority, UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas said in an email to The Associated Press.
UW-Madison has promised to continue to enroll and maintain at least 3,500 Wisconsin residents in each new freshman class, he said. What's more, Blank believes the increase in out-of-state students at the Madison campus will be small, perhaps around 100 to 200 students in each freshman class over the next four years, Lucas said.
ASM also complained that university officials didn't consult with them, the stakeholder group that would be most affected.
Lucas countered that Blank has been talking about increasing out-of-state enrollment since February. The school sent the proposal to the student group last week ahead of the public release Thursday, he said, but he acknowledged university officials didn't collaborate with the group.
Asked for comment on the letter, system spokesman Alex Hummel pointed to the news release UW-Madison issued Friday in which Cross said attracting top out-of-state students increases the chances that more will stay and work in Wisconsin.
If the regents' education committee approves the idea Thursday, the plan will go before the full board on Friday.