MADISON (AP) - The University of Wisconsin-Madison's freshman class includes the smallest percentage of Wisconsin students in at least a decade, according to a new report that recommends the university work harder to attract the state's best high school students.
The portion of in-state students has been shrinking as the percentage of international students increases, said the report put together by a 16-member university committee and presented to the Faculty Senate this week.
"Between 2002 and 2012, the fraction of new freshmen from Wisconsin declined from 64 percent to 56 percent," the report said. "We now enroll a smaller fraction of in-state students than many of our peers, and believe that in order to fulfill our mission to the state of Wisconsin this trend should be reversed."
Provost Paul DeLuca told the Wisconsin State Journal that it could be hard to reverse the trend because fewer students are graduating from Wisconsin high schools.
"We're fighting a little bit of a rearguard action," DeLuca said. "The numbers of available students are going down."
Data provided to The Associated Press on Thursday showed that while the portion of in-state students has dropped, that is partly due to an overall growth in enrollment.
In 2002, 3,548 Wisconsin students enrolled as freshman. Last fall, 3,515 did. At the same time, total enrollment grew from 5,514 in 2002 to 6,279 in 2012.
Admissions data also show the university enrolled more children of alumni, called "legacies," than first-generation college students for the first time last year. Sara Goldrick-Rab, associate professor in the School of Education and chairwoman of the committee, said that should not have happened when the university has been working to increase access for first-generation students.
"Those lines should never have crossed," Goldrick-Rab said. "The gap has been closed the wrong way."
The 2009 Madison Initiative for Undergraduates launched by Chancellor Biddy Martin is aimed in part at providing more help to first-generation students with a tuition surcharge on wealthier students.
DeLuca said financial aid forms tell admissions staff whether an applicant is a first-generation college student, but admissions officers can't ask whether other applicants are the children of alumni. He said having more alumni send their children to the university is a good thing as long as more first-generation students enroll as well.
Goldrick-Rab said she's concerned UW-Madison is losing its appeal. Its 68 percent acceptance rate for in-state students entering last fall was the second highest in a decade, behind the 69 percent acceptance rate in 2009. But the percentage of admitted students who enrolled was 61.2 percent, tied for third-lowest in a decade.
"There's a real question as to why we're not the choice for more students," Goldrick-Rab said.
More students are coming from other states, including Minnesota, whose natives pay the same tuition as Wisconsin residents. Students from other states pay more.
The number of Chinese students at UW-Madison more than doubled this school year. Martin has made recruiting in China a priority.
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