UNDATED (WSAU) Enrollments are down this fall at some of the 26 U-W campuses. Spokesman David Giroux said one factor is a smaller number of incoming high school seniors, caused by lower birth-rates. The U-W is also facing more competition from for-profit online colleges. The flagship campus in Madison has about 370 more students than a year ago, for a total of almost 43,000.
Many of the other four-year schools also have slight increases, and Whitewater has a record enrollment of just over 12,000. But U-W Milwaukee has almost two-and-a-half percent fewer students this fall, and its freshman class is almost 7-percent smaller.
Enrollment at River Falls is down 6-percent from a year ago, partially due to competition from the nearby Twin Cities. And for the first time in recent years, total enrollment at the 13 U-W two-year colleges down. Just over 14,000 students enrolled at the smaller campuses, down by over three-percent.
Larger enrollment drops are expected in the next few years – and officials say they’ll need to improve their recruiting efforts to avoid large financial losses. About 17,000 Wisconsin students are enrolled full-time in online for-profit schools. That’s the third largest group of students in the Badger State behind Madison and Milwaukee. To counteract that, the U-W is working on its own online program.