With State Support Shrinking, Wisconsin Lawmakers Float the Idea of Campus Mergers

Have Wisconsin’s steep cuts to higher-education funding put a reorganization of the state’s colleges and universities on the table? According to The Janesville Gazette, state lawmakers are “quietly and unofficially discussing” whether to merge some of the state’s 16 technical colleges with institutions in the University of Wisconsin system.

The system as a whole has been hit with a two-year cut in state aid amounting to $250 million, prompting serious talks on how to cover the shortfall. But a spokeswoman for Robin Vos, a state representative, said exploration of the merger option had not gotten far. “It’s not a formal group,” she told the Gazette. “Just offices doing research.”

Wisconsin is not the first state to consider consolidation as a cost-cutting move. Earlier this year Georgia merged 12 institutions into six.

Wisconsin legislators have begun quietly and unofficially discussing how the state’s 42 public universities and colleges-the 26 UW System campuses and the 16 technical colleges-might be realigned to deal with dwindling state aid. If approved, any shift would be the biggest realignment of higher education since the UW System was stitched together in 1971 by merging state colleges, the Madison and Milwaukee campuses, and two-year centers.

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