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UW President Says Students Not Choosing University’s Branch Campuses

UW Reforms
Source: UW

The president of the University of Wisconsin says young people are not choosing the university’s branch campuses.

President Jay Rothman told a crowd in Milwaukee the demand is simply not there for the UW’s local campuses like it once was.

“We had to accept what was market reality,” Rothman said at an event at the Milwaukee Press Club. “The attendance at those campuses have dropped drastically in the past 10 years, far more than any of our universities. We have to accept consumers aren’t looking at those branch campuses the way they once were.”

Rothman said online options are making things difficult for small, local campuses.

“If you’re in a branch campus, or somewhere hard to reach, online availability has changed the landscape,” Rothman said.

Rothman’s comments came after UW-Green Bay last week said it will end in-person classes at its Marinette campus at the end of the current semester. UW-Milwaukee County ended in-person classes at its Washington County campus, and UW-Oshkosh announced an end to in-person classes at its Fond du Lac campus.

All three campuses have just a few hundred students each this semester.

Rothman said, overall, the entire university system is facing some difficult financial times.

“We are having to make hard choices at some of our campuses including furloughs, buyouts and layoffs,” Rothman said.

He told the Press Club that 10 of the UW’s 13 campuses are all running a deficit this year.

Rothman said he hopes to close those deficits by 2028 but warned it will take more federal money to make that happen.

“We are all focused on the same thing, and that is student success. We have a long way, certainly encountering some headwinds in being successful, but we are going to work through it,” Rothman said.

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