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WUWM's Emily Files reports on education in southeastern Wisconsin.

Five UW Campuses Can Now Increase Tuition For Non-Residents, Graduate Students

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UW-Whitewater is one of five campuses that can now increase tuition for certain students, starting next fall.

Some UW students could find their tuition bill climbing this fall.

The UW Board of Regents approved tuition increases for certain students at their monthly meeting Friday.

Raises only apply to non-resident students and graduate students in specific programs at UW-La Cross, UW-Platteville, UW-Stout, UW-Whitewater and UW-Milwaukee. They’ll go into effect beginning this fall.  

The UW system has not been able to raise tuition for three years for in-state undergraduates, because Gov. Scott Walker froze their tuition for four years. That freeze lasts until summer 2017.

But the aforementioned campuses want to bump up the prices they can control to fill in holes created by state budget cuts.

Tuition was just one of the big issues the system had on its plate this month.

Tenure reappeared on the regents’ agenda yet again.

Last month, the regents approved a new, blanket tenure policy for the entire UW system. The plan covers such things as layoffs and tenure review, and it replaces the state law that had guaranteed tenure. Republican lawmakers scrapped that law last year, insisting the system needs greater flexibility.

Many higher ed interests lament the weakening of what had been considered one of the strongest tenure systems in the country.

Now, individual campuses are crafting their own faculty protections, as the new overarching policy allows. The Board of Regents has to approve each of those plans.

UW-Madison was the first to bring its policy forward this month to unanimous board approval. It doesn’t look much different from the broader system policy -- leaders at Madison just made a few edits for clarification on who has final authority over layoffs.

After the regents’ vote, UW-Madison Chancellor Becky Blank published a blog post with her thoughts on the policy:

The approved UW-Madison policy is consistent with our peers. This is important in our ability to recruit and retain our top faculty. […] After a difficult nine months of debate, I hope everyone will give this new policy a chance. I believe we have a policy under which we can operate effectively. Let’s move on to the many other challenges and opportunities in front of us.

Other campuses will come to the board for approval, once they finalize their own plans.

Perhaps the most divisive issue surrounding this month’s regents’ meeting is what didn’t make it onto the agenda.

The individual UW campus chancellors were each supposed to make a five-minute presentation on their respective budgets, including how they’re adjusting to budget cuts.

The last state budget sliced funding for the system by $250 million, and the campuses have been feeling the heat.

But earlier this week, UW System President Ray Cross canceled the chancellors’ presentations. His spokesman told reporters he wants leaders to present more thorough information to their local communities first.

Democratic lawmakers criticized the decision. For instance, Senate Democratic leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) accused the regents and system administrators of “caving to political pressure,” by not letting chancellors talk about the impact of the state’s historic cuts to higher education.

The public will get a chance to see what the chancellors would have presented. Officials say they’ll release mini-budget summaries later this week.

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