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WISCONSIN- Upper Iowa University, a private university based in Fayette, Iowa, has announced the closure of seven of its 22 regional education centers, including six in Wisconsin. The decision to close these centers is a result of declining enrollment and the various challenges faced by higher education institutions. The university’s Milwaukee site, located across from the Wisconsin State Fair grounds, and other centers in Madison, Janesville, Wausau, Prairie du Chien, and Racine/Kenosha/Elkhorn will be affected.
According to Susan Scott, a spokesperson for Upper Iowa University, there were a total of 217 students enrolled at the Wisconsin locations. With the exception of the Milwaukee site, all the centers were already operating fully online, and Milwaukee offered very few in-person classes this year. The university’s staff is assisting students in transitioning to fully online courses. Despite the closure of physical office spaces, Upper Iowa University plans to maintain partnerships to continue enrolling new students from the region.
The Rockford, Illinois location of the university is also closing, impacting approximately 15 jobs. In 2015, Upper Iowa University had an enrollment of 5,000 students, but as of fall 2021, the number had decreased to around 2,000. Three-fourths of these students were learning at locations other than the main campus.
The closure of regional centers is a challenge faced by small institutions across the Midwest due to declining enrollment and budgetary constraints. Recently, Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant closed, and Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin will hold its final commencement ceremony. Additionally, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Richland is discontinuing in-person degree programs after the spring semester.