The New Badger Partnership giving autonomy to UW-Madison in a split from the other schools is a topic of considerable interest to students, especially as it relates to tuition. Three university of Wisconsin-Madison advanced video students have spent the last three months interviewing administrators, faculty and students from throughout the state. Here's an excerpt of what they found.
Buried in the Governor's budget is an issue we care about…a plan to separate the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the rest of the UW system.
The hand we're dealt has no money in it and so we must become more self reliant.
The Plan, known as the New Badger Partnership, grants UW Madison "public authority" status…making it independent from the rest of the University of Wisconsin system. Our campus would receive less state revenue, but gain more flexibility.
There are greater flexibilities in discreet administrative domains that could mean a lot to us and those could include purchasing facilities management, tuition setting authority, pay practices.
What types of flexibility are you going to have at your disposal that you didn't have before?
That we didn't have before. Well one of them would be our recently renovated building. The funds that we used to build this building or to renovate this building all came from a private gift. We have a 32 million dollar gift; the state took a cut of that. And then we had to abide by their contracting rules which, in fact, um were a couple layers of bureaucracy that slowed us up and cost us additional money because they were inefficient
Some students support the plan…others—including the Teaching Assistants Association—oppose the plan. UW system wants the same flexibility for ALL campuses. It opposes Madison splitting off.
You know I can understand the rhetoric of giving it more flexibility but just still on principle you're privatizing it.
I don't think we're really here to discuss the merit of the New Badger Partnership per say; we don't need to. We agree with and have advocated for its core principles for many many years. We want those flexibilities for UW-Madison and we want them for all UW campuses.
The flexibilities that are being sought in the New Badger Partnership are flexibilities that this campus needs just like the other campuses need. Ah we obviously we are facing a big cut in state aid and and to address that I think we need some tools to make that happen.
We come at this from the same perspective about the need for change. We've been together now for 40 years. If you split up we think it'll lead to increased competition among the UW campuses, we think it'll def. lead to increased duplication of services and academic programs, we think it'll harm the reputation of all the UW campuses including UW-Madison, and we know it will be very costly.
I think one of the biggest fears our campus would have and probably any campus would have is what happens in the competition for state resources if if you end up having a board for UW-Madison and a board for the rest of the campuses.
What we're most worried about is tuition. Under the current system, the Board of Regents sets tuition limits for UW-Madison and the rest of the state's campuses. In the New Badger Partnership, a new board of trustees would grant Madison the power to set its own tuition
The two issues we're mainly worried about are access and transparency.
I am concerned about the possibility of rising tuition. I am an in-state student, so that helps, but I know especially like a lot of my best friends have been really worried about it.
We can't be in a position where we simply say to ourselves state support declines, and therefore tuition will increase dramatically every year forever. That is not our goal. Our goal is to balance affordability with quality, because the state needs both.
The accessibility of sticker shock of how much students are going to be paying, she says that there's going to be more aid, do we know if there's going to be more aid?
With or without the Madison split, our campus and the others are facing significant cuts. The proposed budget slashes 250-million dollars in funding over the next two years…with half that coming from UW-Madison. Both sides agree that something needs to be done to in order prevent a serious slip in higher education. But we want to know…at what cost?
I've seen and heard people from UW-Madison, not just chancellor Martin, ah say that you know autonomy is the only way. Well I think there's an important and meaningful difference between flexibility and autonomy. You can change that that inflexible state law without fracturing the coordinated unified structure that we have today that I think and I, I know serves taxpayers and students very very well.
What's important to me in this is not the split from the system. That was not our goal but we see the wisdom in what the Governor's proposal offers UW-Madison. The problem for the rest of higher ed in the state is if the quality of UW-Madison deteriorates and that is almost inevitable with the status quo. Then it serves no one to be in a system together.
That report on the new Badger Partnership was produced by students in the Department of Life Sciences Communication under the direction of Professor Patty Loew, who also hosts the program "In Wisconsin."