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The UW System's budget request calls for $4 million in new advising services, among a range of other initiatives.

University of Wisconsin System officials say they will spend millions of dollars on new programs meant to push educated students into the workforce if lawmakers approve their request for a $42.5 million funding increase in the next state budget.

UW released more details Monday of its request for the 2017-19 budget, which will go before the UW Board of Regents for approval on Thursday in Madison.

The budget request seeks funding for a range of initiatives, called 2020FWD, that officials say will boost Wisconsin’s economy. They include:

$15 million to fund efforts to address the “most critical” workforce needs in the areas around each UW institution.

$5.4 million to expand a program that allows high school students to enroll in courses for college credit, which officials say will reduce the time it takes students to earn a degree.

$4 million for “360 Advising” that targets at-risk students and provides help with their academics, job searches and finances to reduce student loan debt.

A new program to turn more student research into businesses with help from organizations such as the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

Expanding the UniverCity Year program at UW-Madison, in which students and faculty work with local communities on sustainability projects, to all four-year UW campuses and UW Extension.

“Each of these items will make the University of Wisconsin more responsive to the needs of the state and its citizens,” System officials wrote in a summary of the budget.

While the budget document shed some new light on where the requested funding will be directed, it does not say exactly how much many of the specific initiatives will cost. System spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said those details will emerge after the budget is passed, once UW’s campuses develop their plans for the funding.

It also remains to be seen how receptive Gov. Scott Walker and the state Legislature will be to the request.

Walker has said he is planning to recommend the state provide some new funding for the UW System that would be tied to its performance in certain criteria. In his radio address last week, Walker said that criteria may include the number of degrees UW awards and “how many graduates actually find work.”

Otherwise, Walker has told UW and most state agencies they should not expect to receive any additional funding in his next budget, which he will present early in 2017.

UW officials acknowledged that, but wrote in their budget summary that they have “been in discussions” with Walker’s office about their plans to “seek an additional investment.”

System President Ray Cross has also called for an end to the freeze on in-state tuition in the next budget, while Walker has said he wants to extend it.


Nico Savidge is the higher education reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.