College News

Access, achievement equity shape new initiative with UW-Madison

Image By: Betsy Osterberger and Betsy Osterberger

UW-Madison will work to boost accessibility and eliminate the achievement gap — which are often attributed to race and socioeconomic status — in a new initiative led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

The effort, which is known as Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success is the largest collaborative effort in the country garnered toward improving college access and equity, as well as the number of degrees awarded each year.

The participating institutions will break down into “clusters” ranging from four to 12 universities to discuss and implement practices that will encourage success for students pursuing a degree. UW-Madison is one of the seven universities in the Big Ten Academic Alliance cluster.

This diverse range of schools is designed is to help hone in on target areas for their work. The Big Ten cluster will focus on retention and persistence.

Jocelyn Milner, vice provost of academic affairs and one of the representatives for the Big Ten cluster, explored areas that need to be “fleshed out” in order to be most successful.

For her cluster, Milner looked into efforts to increase aid for students with little available resources, boosting essential academic and career advising opportunities and documenting and improving the policies and practices that revolve around stop- and drop-outs.

Some of the remaining clusters will tackle integrating data collection systems to monitor student progress, financial aid and student financial literacy, early career advising to prepare students’ for the job market.

Combined, the 130 public universities and systems enroll three million students. One million, of which, receive Pell Grants. The participating campuses share a variety of institutional characteristics, including enrollment, student demographics and regional workforce needs.

“UW-Madison has launched a series of recent initiatives to ensure that the state’s flagship remains accessible for all those who are qualified to attend,” UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said. “Participation in this effort should further that goal.”

UW-Madison has already made strides towards improving accessibility with the introduction of Bucky’s Tuition Promise. In its first year, it provided tuition to 796 first-generation and low- to moderate income students. This makes up for roughly one-fifth of the incoming students in the current academic year.

“Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a real and growing enthusiasm among public university leaders to advance college completion nationally,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “We have to seize the moment and mobilize institutions to improve not just college access, but also equity in student outcomes and the number of students who earn degrees.”

The APLU’s Center for Public University Transformation, which was created earlier this year, is set to be a driving force to create change across the public higher education sector. The Center will share data with the participating institutions in hopes of progressing the quality of education in the future.

The Center — along with the all the universities — aim to achieve these goals by 2025.

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