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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Plan to decrease 'brain drain' a good first step

As an out-of-state student, I understand the trials and tribulations of an ever-increasing tuition while in-state students reap the benefit of a locked in price of attending UW-Madison. This is more than just annoying for personal financial reasons, however. It is often harder for out-of-state students to be admitted to UW-Madison, and as a result, those that do get admitted bring higher test scores, extracurricular activities and more money to the campus. The UW system has recently unveiled a new proposal that would reduce tuition for outof-state students if they plan to live in work in Wisconsin for two years after graduation. 

This plan is genius. The problem of brain drain is evident in Wisconsin, as only 29 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree. High achieving students and graduates of the UW system often find opportunities in neighboring states, such as Illinois or Minnesota, or they make the pilgrimage to one of the coasts in order to follow their professional dreams. While these opportunities are good for those individuals, the professional, intellectual and economic growth of Wisconsin is left stunted. When great minds and thinkers leave in favor of other burgeoning cities and states, their impact and services no longer affect the Wisconsin community. 

Preventing this brain drain is essential in order to compete with more desirable for college graduates. Wisconsin needs to offer a competitive environment in order to attract people who are going to make an impact on the state. This process of attracting and retaining great thinkers can begin at the college admissions level, by attracting more out-of-state students. By offering out-of-state students a reduced tuition, however, it not only attracts high caliber students to UW-Madison, but also ensures they will stay in Wisconsin. By staying in Wisconsin, there will be a long term ripple effect of positive change in the state — graduates will be able to apply their education and skills in the Wisconsin community instead of leaving for “greater” opportunities and growth elsewhere in the country. 

The Wisconsin community will not only be affected by the lack of brain drain, however. The economy will massively improve with a more educated population. College graduates make an average of $17,500 more than their high school graduate peers. With an increase in high earners in the state, people will spend more, which will lead to businesses booming and cities regenerating. Milwaukee and other Wisconsin urban hubs will benefit from a resurgence because of the strengthened economy, which will even further cement Wisconsin’s attractiveness for more out-of-state students. The cycle will continue. 

While the proposal only requires out-of-state students to stay in Wisconsin for two years post graduation, many may choose to stay longer if their career roots them in Wisconsin. It could turn into long term retention of talent, which could turn into generations of great Wisconsin thinkers. 

Speaking of a cycle continuing, education is a cycle. The children of college graduates are more likely themselves to seek higher education. If the children of recipients of this grant grow up in Wisconsin, they have the potential to stay in the state and continue the intellectual resurgence for the long term. Additionally, the children of college graduates are shown to be more likely to be admitted to high-ranking schools, because they grow up in families that value and are aware of higher education. This cycle would help to maintain a level of intellectual excellence in Wisconsin, which could lead to professional, social and economic climbing over decades to come. 

By offering out-of-state students a tuition discount, the state of Wisconsin could be making an investment in their long term future and success. 

Samantha Wilcox is a junior majoring in communication arts and journalism. Please contact us with any comments or questions at opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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