The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents passed a resolution Thursday that will merge 13 two-year colleges with four-year institutions.
Under the proposal first introduced by UW System President Ray Cross last month, two-year colleges would become a branch of a four-year university instead of serving as a stand alone campus.
“Restructuring the UW Colleges will help us to meet the current and future needs of our students, the State of Wisconsin, and its people, and keep Wisconsin moving forward,” Cross said in a statement.
While no two-year college will merge with UW, the UW Extension division will be joined within UW and UW System Administration.
The key reasons for the proposal, Cross said are demographics, enrollment and access. Fewer students are entering the education pipeline and enrollment at UW Colleges has declined, he added.
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Apart from this proposal, Cross said the other options would be to close down certain UW Colleges or merge the campuses with technical colleges.
“Closing campuses violates our core principle of providing accessible and affordable higher education, and the idea of merging with the technical colleges has been discussed for a number of years without consensus,” Cross said.
To move forward with the project, Cross plans to create a steering committee with representatives from UW Colleges, UW institutions, UW System Administration and UW Extension.
The UW System Student Representatives issued a statement after the vote asking for a student representative to be part of the steering committee and having voting rights.
“We asked the leadership today to allow for a student representative with voting rights on the steering committee, and we hope they accept this request, because when it comes to deciding the future of our state, the future deserves a seat at the table,” the statement said.
The changes and details the committee comes up with will be effective July 1, 2018.