UW Facts & Figures

State funding for the University of Washington collapsed for a decade, leading to greater reliance on tuition money, more international enrollment and a higher student debt burden. Current recoveries come nowhere near covering for the loss.

  • From 2009-13, higher education funding suffered cuts of 25.5%. In 2011-13 alone, higher education funding was $1.26 billion below maintenance level. The 2017-19 higher education budget of $3.83 billion finally gets to 2008 levels, but doesn’t recover losses from 2009-15.[1]
  • In 1990, the State of Washington provided 82% of funding per undergraduate UW student, with students providing 18%. For 2018, students pay 65% and the state pays 35%.[2]
  • State funding for UW peaked at $388 million in 2008, or around 12% of overall UW revenue. State funding dropped to as low as $218 million in 2012, and has finally recovered to $356 million in 2018, but is still much lower than the peak and only 5% of all revenue.[3]
  • In 2002, net UW tuition was $282 million, or 11% of revenue. In 2012, tuition was $690 million. Last year, net tuition was $942 million, or 17%. If hospital revenue is not included, tuition is 24%.[4]
  • Much of the tuition growth was via increasing enrollment in international students, who pay higher tuition and extra fees. From 2003-2013, first year, first time enrolled international students increased by over 700%. In-state student enrollment only increased 25%.[5] International student fees are not charged to other out-of-state students and many students have called these fees discriminatory.[6]
  • Between 2009-2012, Washington State experienced the second highest overall in-state tuition increase in the nation, at over $4,000 per student. Only Arizona had a higher tuition hike.[7] Recent freezes don’t go far enough to reverse this growth.
  • In 2017, 40% of UW Seattle students graduated with student debt, with the average recipient having $21,900 in student loan debt. In Bothell, 47% had debt and in Tacoma, 51% had debt.[8]

The University of Washington is also increasingly reliant on bond debt and private philanthropy, which make it look and behave more like a private corporation more than a public university.

  • UW dramatically increased its bond debt over the last decade. Bonds are used to fund capital projects such as the stadium and HUB redevelopments, which make the university more marketable, improve its rankings, and justify higher tuition and fees, all of which help replace lower state funding.
  • As of June 2017, UW had almost $2.4 billion in bond debt, and almost a billion more than in 2010.[9] UW uses all “general revenue” – including money from tuition, student fees and state funding – as guarantees of bond payment.[10]
  • UW’s 2002 bond interest payments were $22 million, or 6.5% of total state funding for the university. By 2017, interest payments were over $79 million, or 23% of state funding.[11]
  • UW’s interest payment per student has averaged almost $900 per year, or 15% of that student’s annual tuition, and it is increasing.[12]
  • In 2015-16, UW received a record $542 million in philanthropic donations, the majority of which was in major gifts earmarked for specific programs, many of which, unsurprisingly, were related to the interests of the donor.[13]

This massive growth in private funding and corporate money is not translating to improved salary gains or job security for the significant majority of UW faculty.

  • During the recession, most UW faculty suffered a four-year wage freeze that widened a salary gap between UW and it closest peer institutions.[14] This trend has not reversed in the period of recent growth.
  • In 2013, the average salary of UW professors (all ranks combined) was lower than all but one of the top ten public research universities with medical schools.[15]
  • The average across the board 2018 UW faculty salary would need to increase almost 8% to reach parity with peer institutions. The average full UW professor salary would need to increase up to 17%.[16]

The funding crisis has led to an over-reliance on part-time and contingent faculty, particularly at UW’s rapidly expanding Tacoma and Bothell campuses.

  • The percent of non-tenure track faculty has grown dramatically in recent years. This varies from faculty who are “without tenure by reason of funding,” to many varied lecturers, extension faculty, affiliates and others.
  • In 2002-03, 43% of UW’s faculty were tenure or tenure track. 57% were non-tenure, and 85% of the non-tenure track faculty were full-time.[17]
  • By 2014-15, only 28% of UW’s faculty were tenure or tenure track. 72% were non-tenure, and 64% of the non-tenure track were full-time.[18] Part-time lecturers and professional yet “without tenure” positions expanded the most.
  • In the last two years, UW has revised its system for counting and now dramatically under-counts non-tenure line faculty.
  • During the recession, UW began employing many more non-competitive full-time lecturers with only one-year contracts, who earn much less than three-year competitive lecturer hires, despite having similar duties.[19]
  • In order to achieve multi-year contracts, contingent faculty on one-year contracts are required to competitively apply for their own positions. UW has recently renewed its commitment to competitive hires, but this means many one-year lecturers with good evaluations are either not renewed after three years, or moved to part-time positions.[20]
  • UW’s growth strategy at its Bothell and Tacoma campuses relies heavily on contingent faculty. In Bothell, 61% of the faculty are non-tenure track, over 60% of whom are part-time. In Tacoma, 53% of the faculty are non-tenure track, over half of them are part time.[21]
  • Part-time lecturers earn lower pay, often work on multiple campuses, lack job security, voting rights and office space, and have very little voice in the university.
  • The increasing reliance on contingent faculty can impact students, since many part-time lecturers don’t have the resources to produce scholarly work or the time or space to meet with students.

During and after the recession, the university experienced an alarming amount of cuts, privatization, department closures and the failure to replace tenure-line positions. This trend has not been reversed, although administrator salaries continue to climb.

  • In the recession years of 2009-11, the university closed 384 undergraduate lecture sections and 130 small group sections, decreased lab sections by 20% and increased lab enrollment 38%.[22] These numbers have not reversed.
  • The university also closed 12 degree programs from 2009-2011 and switched 14 MA programs to “self-sustaining,”[23] fee-based programs, meaning they rely entirely on tuition rather than state funding. The university charges variable tuition rates for these programs.
  • In 2016, UW started cutting Teaching Assistant positions in graduate programs throughout the College of Arts and Sciences.[24]
  • By Fall 2016, 51% of UW’s 8,763 master’s degree students were enrolled in these fee-based programs. This is up from 30% of students, or 1,872, in 2007.[25] In total, over 50,000 students of various types are enrolled in UW’s recently renamed “Continuum College” for 2018.[26]
  • “Self-Sustaining” continuing education revenue reached $106 million for 2017-18, the highest it has ever been.[27]
  • Throughout, UW has been transitioning towards significantly more mixed method and online-only classes with much higher student enrollment.[28]
  • UW President Ana Mari Cauce is earning $697,500 a year in base salary and $910,000 a year in total income, and received a 3% raise in 2016. She may be the highest paid woman university president in the country.[29]
  • UW’s Vice-President of Human Resources, Mindy Kornberg, made $293,300 in 2012 and $361,000 by 2016, a 23% raise over five years.[30] Other top administrators fared similarly.

This is all part of UW’s long-term strategy of corporatization, as clearly advocated for by some of UW’s wealthiest supporters as far back as in the 2012 “Washington’s Futures” report. This agenda has undermined the university’s core educational values and created vast inequities over the last decade.

  • The report advocated for variable tuition rates, starting in professional programs and later spreading to undergraduate programs. Students in more popular programs pay higher tuition.[31]
  • The report advocated for continuing to depend on out-of-state and international student enrollment, partially to generate more revenue for low income Washington State enrollees.[32]
  • The report advocated for continued dependency on contingent faculty for low-level courses and for flipped classrooms and “Massive Open Online Courses” taught by many fewer tenured faculty.[33]
  • The report advocated for continued dependency on philanthropic revenue, corporate partnering and commercialization of intellectual property and content created by students and faculty.[34]
  • It has many parallels to UW’s new West Campus “innovation district” plans.
  • The report suggested that increased state funding for the university is an essential solution to the problem. However, many of the report’s authors and their employers donated over $635,000 against a 2010 income tax initiative, which ultimately lost, that would have raised a billion a year for fully funding education (an average of $52,963 per author).

A key part of reversing these trends is to build a strong, united faculty voice at the University of Washington.

  • Our faculty union is working to:
    • Provide a powerful voice for faculty and students in Olympia, helping improve state funding, reverse the trend of corporatization, and protect core education values.
    • Advocate for enforceable wage floors and steps for advancement, without constraining merit-based pay or limiting faculty from negotiating their own salaries.
    • Protect what remains of the tenure system and insure that UW’s rapidly growing non-tenure population has job security, academic freedom, voice in the workplace and reasonable means to advancing their careers.
    • Protect UW’s most vulnerable faculty from discrimination, unfair or inconsistent discipline and other attacks.
  • SEIU Local 925 already represents 17,000 education professionals throughout Washington State, from early learning providers through K-12 and UW staff, and faculty at Antioch University Seattle. By becoming “Faculty Forward” members, UW faculty are joining the largest and most powerful union on the UW campuses, and one of the most powerful education advocacy organizations in the State.

[1] For pre-2012 estimates, see Washington Higher Education Coordinating Boards “Key Facts About Higher Education In Washington wsac.wa.gov/sites/default/files/KeyFacts2012.pdf For more recent years, see https://www.ofm.wa.gov/budget/state-budgets

[2] UW reports all of this to the National Center for Education Statistics Intercollegiate Postsecondary Data Set. See https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

[3] UW reports all of this to the National Center for Education Statistics Intercollegiate Postsecondary Data Set. See https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

[4]UW reports all of this to the National Center for Education Statistics Intercollegiate Postsecondary Data Set. See https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

[5] See #2. Also, see University of Washington Common Data Set. Author analysis on file and available
http://seattleglobalist.com/2014/05/28/uw-international-students-say-new-fees-discriminate/23605

[6] See http://www.cbpp.org/files/5-1-14sfp.pdf

[7] See database at the Project on Student debt at https://ticas.org/posd/map-state-data#overlay=posd/state_data/2017/wa

[8] See UW’s 2017 Annual Financial Report at http://finance.uw.edu/uwar/annualreport2017.pdf

[9] General Revenue is included in all UW bonds as of 2008. For some of UW’s most recent bonds, see page 25 of PDF at http://emma.msrb.org/EA555894-EA433636-EA829809.pdf

[10] UW reports all of this to the National Center for Education Statistics Intercollegiate Postsecondary Data Set. See https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

[11] UW reports all of this to the National Center for Education Statistics Intercollegiate Postsecondary Data Set. See https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

[12] See https://www.washington.edu/giving/recognition/report-to-contributors/

[13] See http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2019631381_salaries08m.html

[14] See Washington Futures Report at http://www.washington.edu/provost/files/2013/08/WAFUTURES_082813.pdf

[15] UW reports all of this to the National Center for Education Statistics Intercollegiate Postsecondary Data Set. See https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

[16] UW reports all of this to the National Center for Education Statistics Intercollegiate Postsecondary Data Set. See https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

[17] See UW Common Data Sets at http://opb.washington.edu/content/Common-Data-Set. Author calculations on file and available.
According to UW lecturer sources.

[18] UW reports all of this to the National Center for Education Statistics Intercollegiate Postsecondary Data Set. See https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

[19] See http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/files/2011/02/UW-Letter-re-2011-13-Higher-Education-Biennial-Budget-Reduction-Scenarios.pdf

[20] See http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/files/2011/02/UW-Letter-re-2011-13-Higher-Education-Biennial-Budget-Reduction-Scenarios.pdf

[21] https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/uw-cuts-social-science-ta-jobs-as-more-undergrads-shift-to-math-science/

[22] See https://grad.uw.edu/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Graduate-School-Admissions-and-Enrollment-Report-2016.pdf

[23] See UW’s projected 2018 budget at https://www.washington.edu/regents/files/2017/05/2017-05-B-3.pdf

[24] See UW’s 2017 Annual Financial Report at http://finance.uw.edu/uwar/annualreport2017.pdf

[25] See http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/files/2011/02/UW-Letter-re-2011-13-Higher-Education-Biennial-Budget-Reduction-Scenarios.pdf

[26] See https://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/uws-ana-mari-cauce-might-be-the-highest-paid-woman-president-of-a-state-university

[27] All state employee salary information is available via the Washington State Employee Salary Database. See http://fiscal.wa.gov/salaries

[28] See Washington Futures Report at http://www.washington.edu/provost/files/2013/08/WAFUTURES_082813.pdf, in particular pp 17 and 39-40

[29] See Washington Futures Report at http://www.washington.edu/provost/files/2013/08/WAFUTURES_082813.pdf, in particular pp 17 and 14-15

[30] See Washington Futures Report at http://www.washington.edu/provost/files/2013/08/WAFUTURES_082813.pdf, in particular pp 24-25 and 27

[31] See Washington Futures Report at http://www.washington.edu/provost/files/2013/08/WAFUTURES_082813.pdf, in particular pp 32

All UW photographs by Curtis Cronn and subject to CC-licenses as indicated on Flickr

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