Wisconsin’s public colleges and universities could see their funding increase in the next state budget based on how they do in certain performance measures, Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday.
Additional funding for the University of Wisconsin System would reverse a trend that has seen money cut from UW in the last four state budgets, most recently by $250 million in the 2015-17 budget. The performance-based funding would expand on a program in place for the Wisconsin Technical College System since 2013.
“If we do anything additional for the University of Wisconsin System — we’re interested in looking at it — we’d probably try and figure out ... some performance-driven components as a possibility going forward,” Walker told reporters.
It’s not clear what aspects of the institutions’ performance could determine the funding. Walker did not specify any criteria and his spokesman declined to provide details.
But the governor’s office pointed to outcomes-based funding for technical colleges that ties a growing percentage of their budgets to how well they perform in categories such as graduates’ job placement and the number of degrees colleges award in high-demand fields.
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“I think that makes sense,” Walker said. “It’s certainly what we hear from employers who are looking to fill critical positions.”
Walker’s comments, made after a luncheon for the United Negro College Fund in Madison, came a day after Wisconsin Public Radio reported he indicated UW and the technical colleges could receive “additional support” in the budget.
Asked about that report prior to Walker’s comments about performance-based funding, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who also attended the UNCF luncheon Thursday, said, “I’d be delighted to be talking about investment in the university.”
System spokesman Alex Hummel said officials are not aware of the specific performance metrics that state officials could seek for higher education funding. But he said UW officials were pleased to hear Walker talk about increasing their funding, and noted the System’s efforts to track student success and administrative efficiency.
“We’re open to working with the governor and legislature on any new concepts that might come forth,” Hummel said. “It’s encouraging to hear the governor … refer to the UW System as a priority.”