Friday, November 26, 2021

Enrollment at UW branch campuses has fallen sharply since the merger, dropping 42%

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UW-Platteville Richland students, including Faith Morga, left, and her mother, Carrie, study at the student center in 2020. The campus is now down to 75 students.

John Hart, State Journal

The Wisconsin system’s smaller branch campuses continue to bleed students with a 42% drop in enrollment since a reorganization four years ago that was designed to keep them afloat by merging with nearby four-year schools.

Overall, the system has 1,786 fewer students this fall than in 2020, or a decrease of about 1%, according to preliminary data released Thursday. This is a small drop compared to the 2.3% drop recorded at the national level. And new enrollment increased by about 4%, compared to a decline of 3% nationally.

“Clearly, we are doing something right,” Interim Systems President Tommy Thompson told the UW Board of Regents at a meeting on the UW-Madison campus on Thursday.

But the data paint a dire picture at some of the smaller branch campuses, most of which are located in smaller towns, with declining populations that attract students from the area.

#9884 Madison- Merged Enrollment at UW Branch Campus since 2018_chart_110521

At UW-Platteville Richland, enrollment has dropped to 75 students, down from 366 students when the reorganization took effect in 2018. Its parent campus, UW-Platteville, reported a 10% drop, the biggest drop among four-year schools.

University spokesman Paul Erickson said the numbers were largely anticipated given the declining number of high school students in southwest Wisconsin.


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