UW Facts & Figures

State funding for the University of Washington has collapsed in the last decade, leading to greater reliance on tuition money, more international enrollment and a higher student debt burden.

  • From 2007-13, higher education funding suffered cuts of 25.5%. In 2011-13 alone, higher education funding was $1.26 billion below maintenance level. Current higher education budgets proposed in the State Legislature for 2015-17 offer some increase over previous years, but still don’t make up for the losses sustained from 2007-12.[1]
  • In 1990, the State of Washington provided 82% of funding per undergraduate UW student, with students providing 18%. In 2013, students paid 70% and the state paid 30%.[2]
  • State funding for UW peaked at $388 million in 2008, or around 12% of overall UW revenue. State funding is around $262 million today, or close to 5% of all revenue.[3]
  • In 2002, net UW tuition was $282 million, or 11% of revenue.  In 2012, tuition was $690 million, or 18%.  Last year, net tuition was $839 million.  If hospital revenue is not included, tuition was 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]
  • In 2013, 48% of UW Seattle students graduated with student debt, with the average student having $21,263 in student loan debt.  Many students have much higher debt burdens.[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 big capital projects such as the stadium and HUB redevelopments, which make the university more marketable, improve its rankings, and justify higher tuition and fee costs, all of which help replace diminished state funding.
  • As of June 2014, UW had over $2 billion in bond debt, the highest it has ever been, and over $800 million 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] In a fiscal emergency, bond payments would have to supersede other UW priorities.
  • UW’s 2002 bond interest payments were $22 million, or 6.5% of total state funding for the university. By 2012-13, interest payments were $57 million, or 26% 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.  In 2002, it was $605 per student, in 2012, it was $1,128.[12]
  • In 2013-14, UW received a record $482.5 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.  Former UW President Michael Young called it a “banner year” for UW.[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.
  • As of 2013, “the average salary of UW professors (all ranks combined) is lower than all but one of the top ten public research universities with medical schools.”[15]
  • The average across the board UW salary would need to increase almost 12% to reach parity with peer institutions. The average full UW professor salary would need to increase 16%.[16]
  • The decrease in state funding forced more faculty to seek out grant funding for their positions.  At the same time, National Institute for Health (NIH) grants to UW decreased by 10% from 2012-13,[17] making income for many of UW’s “without tenure” faculty more precarious.

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, 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.[18]
  • By 2012-13, only 30% of UW’s faculty were tenure or tenure track. 70% were non-tenure, and 64% of the non-tenure track were full-time.[19] Part-time lecturers and professional yet “without tenure” positions expanded the most. 
  • During the recession, UW began employing many more non-competitive full-time lecturers with only one-year contracts, who earn much less than competitive hires, despite having similar duties.[20] 
  • In order to achieve multi-year contracts, contingent faculty on one-year contracts are required to competitively apply for their own positions.[21]
  • UW’s growth strategy at its Bothell and Tacoma campuses relies heavily on contingent faculty. In Bothell, 62% of the faculty are non-tenure track, half of whom are part-time.  In Tacoma, 54% of the faculty are non-tenure track, two thirds of whom are part-time.[22]
  • 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.

  • The university closed 12 degree programs from 2009-2011 and switched 14 MA programs to “self-sustaining,”[23] meaning they rely entirely on tuition rather than state funding. The university now charges variable rates for some of its extension programs and is considering extending them to more.[24]
  • In the same period, the university not only froze enrollment for undergraduates[25], but redistributed the enrollment load from lower paying in-state students to higher paying international students.[26] When undergraduate enrollment was increased, it was at much higher in-state tuition levels.
  • The university closed 384 undergraduate lecture sections and 130 small group sections, decreased lab sections by 20% and increased lab enrollment 38%.[27]
  • UW began transitioning towards significantly more mixed method and online-only classes with much higher student enrollment.[28]
  • In recent years, top UW administrators have seen massive salary gains, despite all the recent cuts. Immediately before departing UW, outgoing President Michael Young received a 6% raise, bringing his proposed salary to $854,000 a year.[29]
  • UW’s Vice-President of Human Resources, Mindy Kornberg, received a 7.5% raise in 2012 and a 9.3% raise in 2013, bringing her total compensation to $321,660, while faculty and staff faced salary freezes.[30] Other top administrators fared similarly.
  • President Young claimed that he left for Texas A&M partially because Texas provides much more funding for higher education. However, Texas A&M also offered him a significantly larger salary than UW.[31]

In the “Washington’s Futures” report, the UW’s wealthiest supporters advocate for further corporatization, which undermines the university’s core educational values and will create a system of inequality.

  • The report advocates for variable tuition rates, starting in professional programs and potentially later spreading to undergraduate programs. Students in more popular programs would pay higher tuition.[32]
  • The report advocates for continuing to depend on out-of-state and international student enrollment, partially to generate more revenue for low income Washington State enrollees.[33] 
  • The report advocates 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.[34]
  • The report advocates for continued dependency on philanthropic revenue, corporate partnering and commercialization of intellectual property and content created by students and faculty.[35]
  • The report suggests that increased state funding for the university is an essential solution to the problem.[36] However, the majority of the report’s authors also oppose new tax revenue. While author William Gates, Sr, was a big contributor to a 2010 income tax initiative that would have raised billions for education every year, other report authors and their employers gave over $635,000 against the initiative (an average of $52,963 per author), which lost.

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

  • A strong faculty union at UW could:
    • Provide a powerful voice for faculty and students in Olympia, helping improve state funding, reverse the trend of corporatization, and protect core education values.
    • Negotiate 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.
    • Negotiate an improved grant management system, in which transitioning between grant and state funding was easier, and the grant process was less onerous for faculty.
  • SEIU Local 925 already represents close to 20,000 education professionals throughout Washington State, from early learning providers through K-12 and UW staff, and faculty at Antioch and Seattle University. By joining SEIU 925’s “Faculty Forward” campaign, UW faculty would be joining the largest and most powerful union on the UW campuses, and one of the most powerful education advocacy organizations in the State.

[1] See Washington Higher Education Coordinating Boards “Key Facts About Higher Education In Washington wsac.wa.gov/sites/default/files/KeyFacts2012.pdf

[2] UW reports all this information to the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. See http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/. Author analysis on file and available.

[3] See #1.

[4] See #1.

[5] See #1. Also, see University of Washington Common Data Set. Author analysis on file and available.

[6] See http://seattleglobalist.com/2014/05/28/uw-international-students-say-new-fees-discriminate/23605

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

[8] See database at the Project on Student Debt http://projectonstudentdebt.org/state_by_state-view2014.php?area=WA

[9] See UW’s 2014 Annual Financial Report at http://f2.washington.edu/fm/uw-annual-reports/sites/default/files/file/annualreport2014.pdf

[10] General Revenue is included in all UW bonds as of 20XX. For some of UW’s most recent bonds, see page 25 of PDF at http://emma.msrb.org/EA555894-EA433636-EA829809.pdf

[11] See #1. Author calculations on file and available.

[12] See #1. Author calculations on file and available.

[13] See http://www.washington.edu/president/2014/07/11/a-banner-year-for-uw-support/

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

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

[16] See #13.

[17] See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/09/budget-crisis_n_2843174.html

[18] See #1. Author calculations on file and available.

[19] See #1. Author calculations on file and available.

[20] See #1. Also, see UW Common Data Sets at http://opb.washington.edu/content/Common-Data-Set. Author calculations on file and available.

[21] According to numerous full-time lecturer sources on campus

[22] See #1. Author calculations on file and available

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

[24] See #13.

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

[26] UW Common Data Set. Analysis on file and available.

[27] See #23.

[28] See #23.

[29] See http://www.geekwire.com/2015/university-washington-president-michael-young-reportedly-departs-texas/

[30] See http://www.fiscal.wa.gov/Salaries.aspx

[31] See http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2025662738_texaswashingtonxml.html

[32] See #13, in particular, pp 17 and 39-40

[33] See #13, in particular, pp 14-15

[34] See #13, in particular, pp 24-25 and 27

[35] See #13, in particular, pp 32

[36] See #13, in particular, pp 37

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

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