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UW Summer international students

Students attending summer school at UW-Madison post social media photos of themselves for the #UWSummer campaign.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has so successfully ramped up its summer term that it exceeded its goal for increasing revenue three years ahead of schedule.

Preliminary figures show revenue of $24.6 million for the 2017 summer term, according to a summary presented Sept. 25 to the University Committee, the executive committee of the Faculty Senate, the university’s shared governance body. That’s more than double the revenue of just two years ago.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank applauded the growth in a recent blog post.

"There’s no better time to be in Madison than in the months of June, July and August. This is a wonderful time to invite current students to remain in town and to attract new summer-only students," Blank said. Two years of a revamped summer term “has provided students with expanded educational opportunities and flexibilities, allowed the university to use more of its facilities year-round,” she wrote.

The campus launched a social media campaign #UWSummer to promote campus class and social offerings and raise awareness of the growing third-term program.

Much of the growth in revenue comes from expanded online offerings, which doubled between 2015 and 2017.

The successful term grew out of an effort to reframe a summer school program that campus administrators said was underperforming. A campus committee in 2015 was blunt in its criticism of the existing summer program, saying it did not meet student needs and lagged behind programs at other universities in innovation and revenue generation.

The committee recommended increasing summer offerings and a changed fiscal model allowing schools and departments that do that to keep more of the increased revenue. It was projected the changes would double summer term revenue to $21.4 million by 2020.

University officials piloted the recommendations in summer term 2016, and expanded them further this year.

Course enrollment — a head count of enrollment in each class offered in the summer — rose to 20,090 this summer, up 5 percent from last year. Students earned nearly 58,000 credit hours, 7 percent more than last year.

Online courses, which allow traditional students and others to earn credits wherever their summer takes them, rose 36 percent in 2017. The number of on-campus, face-to-face courses, meanwhile, has dropped about 6 percent since 2015, but that is in line with national trends, said a UW-Madison spokesman.

“It’s not a major concern of ours at this time,” said Dave Giroux of UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies.

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The 2017 summer term also introduced or expanded programs to give undergraduate students research opportunities, and acquaint incoming international students to campus.

Financial aid was increased, and targeted to such groups as students who transferred in to UW-Madison from other campuses. Some $550,000 in aid was awarded to 737 students.

Planning for next year is underway.

Blank said that programs will be expanded for undergraduate research, first-year students and transfer students. More residential programs for high school students and undergraduates from other institutions also will be created.

A new four-week summer session in May will be added to the summer term schedule, she said.

And a new program, Summer Term Igniter Funds, has been created to spur innovative programming by instructors, departments, administrators and cross-campus workgroups.

“If you thought #UWSummer 2017 was good,” Blank enthused, “just wait until next year, when there will be even more to tweet about.”

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