Committee approves lifting out-of-state cap for UW-Madison students

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A University of Wisconsin System committee has approved lifting a cap on out-of-state students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Board of Regents’ education committee approved lifting the limit for the next four academic years with a unanimous voice vote on Thursday. The proposal now goes to the full board on Friday.

The system currently caps the number of out-of-state undergraduate students at 27.5 percent of the undergraduate population at each campus. UW-Madison officials want to eliminate their cap for four years starting next fall.

The move would generate considerable revenue for the school as it grapples with budget cuts. Out-of-state students pay about $20,000 more annually in tuition than state residents.

UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank told the committee Thursday the waiver would push the institution to recruit harder within and outside of Wisconsin. She added her institution is “uniquely situated” to make sure Wisconsin’s best and brightest don’t leave for colleges in other states, and to bring students from other states into Wisconsin and get them to stay for work.

“I’m looking at all sorts of ways to partner with industry in the state, with professional organizations in the state, to put industry and Wisconsin businesses in front of my students in a way when they get to their senior year, they’ve heard of these companies, they know something about them, they are more likely to go work for them,” Blank said.

UW System President Ray Cross told the regents the state sees as many as 14,000 college-educated young people leave the state as high school graduate numbers continue to fall. He explained there’s a need for skilled, young talent in Wisconsin’s workforce, and while waiving the cap wouldn’t solve the problems, it would be a start.

“Overall, this plan gives Madison the flexibility and incentive to recruit and develop high-quality talent our state desperately needs. It needs that in order to grow the economy,” Cross said.

The university insists the move isn’t about money but bolstering Wisconsin’s workforce as in-state enrollment continues to dip.