MILWAUKEE — Preliminary figures suggest the University of Wisconsin System could lose about 5,000 students this school year, according to a published report.
If those numbers hold, the UW System could lose tens of millions of dollars in revenue. Tuition is the schools’ number one source of revenue, and state funding cuts have led to downsizing on campuses.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2cVvAQ3 ) requested the head count from each campus’ 10th day of classes. The newspaper compared those numbers with the official head count for fall of 2015, which was determined later in the semester.
The preliminary numbers show smaller freshman classes this fall at four of the 13 four-year campuses compared with a year ago. Seven of the four-year campuses saw total enrollment drop a combined 2,608 students.
Gains were small compared with losses. The largest gain in total enrollment was 274 students at UW-Madison, while the largest loss among the four-year campuses was 1,276 students at UW-Milwaukee, a nearly 5 percent drop compared with final enrollment figures from last fall. UW-Stevens Points saw a loss of 629 students, a nearly 7 percent drop.
Last fall the UW System officially enrolled 178,571 students. Subtracting gains from losses, the preliminary enrollment systemwide suggests a loss of 5,097 students this fall, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman for UW System, said enrollments are expected to fluctuate each year.
“Some will go up, while others will go down,” Marquis said.
Budget director Erin Hintz estimates UW-Stevens Point will lose $3.8 million in tuition revenue for campus operations if the school’s final numbers don’t pick up.
At UW-Milwaukee, the loss in tuition revenue could reach about $5 million, according to Tom Luljak, the school’s vice chancellor of university relations and communications.
Tuition for UW Colleges is about half of what students pay at the four-year campuses, but the two-year colleges’ tuition loss still will be significant. The incoming freshman class alone fell by 840 students, a 22 percent drop.
Cathy Sandeen, chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, said several factors likely contributed to UW Colleges’ early loss of about 3,000 students this fall.
As the economy recovers, enrollment at two-year institutions often declines as more jobs become available, especially for nontraditional students, Sandeen said. And some new high school graduates may delay college and choose to earn tuition money first to avoid taking out loans, she said.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com