Our federal partnership
As the country works toward a resilient recovery from the pandemic, the University of Washington is at the forefront of knowledge production, meeting complex social, geopolitical and economic challenges with innovation and impact. Each school and department at the UW remains steadfast in its pursuit of education and research, making unique contributions to the UW’s powerhouse of discovery, fueled by federal investment.
Only through historic and consistent federal investment in fundamental research could the UW and our nation discover and apply new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain or create new vaccines and treatments. The passage of the CHIPS Act, authorizing billions of dollars for research agencies, reflects the understanding that investment in science and technology research is critical for American innovation and competitiveness, and we applaud the efforts of Congress in getting this passed.
The year 2023 has tremendous potential to be a year that reasserts the country as an international leader through these historic investments in science and technology, which can lead to unprecedented levels of innovation, even amid challenges that become more complex and interconnected.
By leveraging federal, state and private dollars, the UW is developing and fostering the next generation of leaders, thinkers and doers who are actively addressing the nation’s most complex challenges and accelerating innovation today while creating the advances, technologies and expertise of the future.
At the UW, we view federal support as long-term investments in the development of ideas, designed to pay significant dividends on both a national and a global scale. Thank you. Your continued support is invaluable, and as always, we strive to be positive and responsible stewards of federal resources. The UW looks forward to partnering with the federal government in pursuit of mutual goals. The UW outlines the following federal agenda for FY2024.
Federal investment in education
Affordability & access
- Of our more than 42,000 undergraduates, 23% were eligible for Pell Grants as of fall 2021.
- 26% of undergraduates in fall 2021 were eligible for the Husky Promise, which covers tuition and fees for WA students with financial need.
- 69% of the UW’s 2022 incoming class (including first-year and transfer students) are WA residents.
- More than 83% of alumni live and work in WA.
Federal investment in education through Pell Grants, Federal Work-Study, and policies that welcome international students and scholars allowed the UW to increase access to quality education with far-reaching impacts on the state of Washington and the nation. At its core, the University was founded to educate the residents of Washington. Due to investment in financial aid, such as Pell Grants, the UW has been able to scale its impact on the state: Almost 70% of the incoming class across all three campuses are Washington residents. In fall 2022, the UW also welcomed the University’s largest and most diverse incoming class: 27% are first-generation college students and 15% are from underrepresented minority groups.
The UW’s commitment to inclusion is not limited by borders. International students make up almost 15% of the UW’s total enrolled students, showcasing the attractiveness of U.S. higher education in Washington. The ability to innovate and remain competitive and the unparalleled quality of American higher education are inextricably linked. The nation’s ability to remain competitive and innovative depends on attracting the best minds, regardless of origin. At the same time, the renowned excellence of American higher education is not possible without a healthy and welcoming environment for all students and scholars. Access to and the sharing of ideas are fundamental to the fabric of progress.
For the UW to ensure excellence and become even more innovative, it is imperative that Congress take steps to maintain the free flow of ideas, whether through robust funding of Title VI international-education programs or by funding proven access programs such as Pell Grants, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) and TRIO. Just as importantly, we have seen over the past several years, and especially now, that a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system is long overdue.
Too many talented people, including individuals eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), have been caught up in the current set of piecemeal rules and regulations. The current uncertainty for the future of DACA is causing frustration and confusion for students and their families, while severely jeopardizing the country’s competitiveness for retaining U.S. talent. The consistent uncertainty must be met with congressional action through immigration reform that permanently protects DACA-eligible individuals as well as strong H-1B visa and Optional Practical Training programs. As a global university, we can bridge differences by bringing ideas and perspectives together to create a more prosperous future for all.
More specifically, the UW asks Congress to:
- Invest in students directly by generously funding programs such as Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Federal Work-Study, which make higher education a more viable possibility for financially disadvantaged students.
- Support increased access and talent development through robust funding for TRIO and GEAR UP, as well as programs funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) designed to increase pathways for students from groups that have historically been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree programs.
- Reinvest in and strengthen Title VI and Fulbright-Hays, as they are the federal government’s most comprehensive international-education programs. Graduates of these programs are essential to our country’s diplomatic, defense, commercial and educational interests, as well as interests in many other areas of society.
- Reestablish a welcoming environment with sensible safeguards for students, scholars and visitors from around the globe by comprehensively reforming and creating a sensible immigration system. Only a comprehensive fix will address the shortfalls that exist in a host of critical and linked provisions and programs of importance to the UW and the nation alike, such as student and scholar visas (F-1, J-1), employment-based visa programs (H-1B, Optional Practical Training and green cards) and permanent protection for DACA-eligible students and employees. The United States has benefited immeasurably from the contributions of international students and scholars, and we have seen that piecemeal approaches to fixing different programs do not work. We ask for a comprehensive review of the system.
Federal investment in research
We thank Congress for its recent robust support of federal research funding and urge continued critical investments in basic and applied science in a broad spectrum of fields across all federal research-supporting agencies and directorates. The CHIPS Act is a tremendous opportunity for the country to recognize the critical importance of science and technology research that will enhance our national security, competitiveness and quality of life. We strongly encourage Congress to deliver on the promise of the CHIPS Act by fully funding the authorizations passed in the bill.
Research at the UW
- More than 279 specialized research centers are housed at the UW. Projects at these centers and across the UW sustain more than 12,000 jobs.
- More than 30% of UW sponsored research projects involve collaborations with other institutions, and the UW shares research projects with research institutes in at least 36 countries.
- The UW receives more federal research dollars than any other U.S. public university; in FY2022 it received $1.67 billion in total research awards (federal and nonfederal sources).
The UW continues to view support for the NIH as our top federal funding priority and the NSF as our second priority. Each college and school across the UW has a grant funded by either NIH or NSF, and most have significant funding from both agencies. In FY2022, the UW received more than $634 million from the NIH, making it our largest single federal funding source, and $169 million from the NSF.
Overall, in FY2022 the UW received more than $801 million from the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes funding from the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, and others.
Maintaining federal investment in research is not simply about singular monetary investments. Research programs need time, sustained resources and infrastructure support to mature and succeed. Inconsistent rules and guidance from federal agencies or funding uncertainty — whether from continuing resolutions, one-time increases or proposed cuts — undermine the decades of progress. Uncertainty sets up researchers, research institutions, agencies, innovation and our nation for failure.
We must find ways to allow all talented individuals to contribute to the education and research ecosystem, and we must break down unnecessary barriers. We urge Congress to improve our international-engagement abilities by reducing visa processing times for students and visiting scholars; enacting permanent, positive solutions for DACA-eligible recipients and their families; reaffirming our ability to welcome and engage in global discourse through international students and scholars; and creating an equitable and fair green-card system. In short, as we noted above, we ask that Congress and the administration come together in 2023 to finally take up and pass a comprehensive immigration-reform package that will benefit both the education and research missions of the University.
The UW fully recognizes that access to federal resources and the ability to welcome individuals from around the world are privileges, and we understand the associated national security responsibilities related to the research enterprise. Foreign and domestic bad actors who strive to abuse or circumvent the grant and intellectual property system cannot be tolerated.
The UW is working with the federal government and colleagues across higher education to be proactive in reinforcing or establishing protections and processes to educate faculty, students and staff on potential risks; promoting best practices for compliance with current federal and state disclosure requirements; and protecting our mutual intellectual property and future economic opportunity. We urge Congress to instruct federal agencies that sponsor research to better collaborate, share information and develop best practices to recognize threats and protect federal and university investments in intellectual property.
Further, we urge the federal government to continue to develop a holistic data-reporting framework that is user-friendly for institutions and end users of data. Institutions of higher education are accustomed to submitting substantial volumes of data to systems such as the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, and we agree that the integrity of our nation’s scientific enterprise warrants transparency regarding our global engagements and contracts. This means the creation of a rational and logical government-wide system, not one that requires each agency to develop its own just for the sake of creating a unique system. Rather, agencies should create an interagency system that allows for data sharing to the greatest extent possible.
The issue of cumbersome data systems is not new. Over 30 years ago, Congress enacted Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 due to concerns about the growing financial relationship between U.S. universities and foreign sources. Institutions have complied for over three decades, but the current reporting mechanism is cumbersome at best and prohibits true, usable disclosures by end users. Rather than reveal nefarious actions, a well-designed system will, we believe, demonstrate instead how globally engaged and interconnected knowledge and the pursuit of science are today. We want to comply with sensible and reasonable requirements, and we ask that the federal government help create a rational and usable system with clear guidance.
While we believe there is a strong need to protect our investment in the research enterprise, funding for research programs is not enough. In addition to support for scientific research, federal efforts that bolster resources — both financial and programmatic — for student, faculty and staff success are fundamental to our long-term national security, economic growth and prosperity. Scientific progress and societal advancement are not possible without fostering student development and talent. We strive to ensure that the UW is an inclusive, diverse and welcoming community to all its members regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, economic status, nationality or length of time at the University. Assault, harassment and discrimination have no place on our campuses or in our nation.
More specifically, the UW asks Congress to:
- Maintain robust funding and support sustainable increases for the NIH and NSF, as well as other federal scientific research agencies and directorates.
- Fully fund the authorizations passed in the CHIPS Act including increased investment in U.S. research agencies including the NSF, the NIH and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and investing in critical resources for STEM scholarships, fellowships and traineeships.
- Invest in next-generation interdisciplinary research areas that are critical to the scientific and technological future of the U.S., such as AI and quantum information science and engineering, which broadly impact many fields. For example, applications of quantum technology span information science, sensing, secure communication and computing. In addition, invest in integrative research-education programs that will ensure a competitive U.S. workforce in these areas.
- Continue to invest in undergraduate and graduate research and support programs that engage all students, especially those from traditionally underrepresented populations, in meaningful basic and applied research opportunities.
For years, we have been focusing our collective efforts through two specific initiatives: Population Health and Race & Equity. The last three years have shown that these two focuses have been critically important and at the forefront of the nation’s social and political consciousness. As the world continues to recover from the pandemic, the UW’s initiatives are providing answers and strategies for a resilient recovery while also helping the country be better prepared for future global shocks. These initiatives showcase what the UW has been able to accomplish as partners with the federal government.
The UW’s Race & Equity Initiative
At the UW, we are unwavering in our resolve to create an inclusive, equitable and welcoming community for all. Diversity, in all its forms, is critical to advance our understanding of the world and to discover solutions that better serve society. We believe in leading by example, and the UW is putting great effort into changing our culture by recognizing overt biases and microaggressions, fostering a safe environment to report and address inappropriate or offensive behavior, and working to combat institutional racism and inequities. These changes benefit the entire UW community. We are proud of our diversity, and we strive to create a safe and respectful place to discover, challenge the status quo and grow intellectually.
The UW’s Population Health Initiative
While today’s global challenges are monumental and those of the future unpredictable, the UW remains committed to defying the odds and conventional thinking to solve these problems despite the challenges. One area that exemplifies the UW’s unique approach to problem-solving is our 25-year Population Health Initiative. This initiative seeks to address the intersecting factors that influence the health and well-being of our planet and our global population. In classrooms, clinics and communities, the initiative takes a holistic approach by bringing together students and faculty from many disciplines to improve human health, sustain our environment and promote social and economic equity.
The initiative’s efforts are directed toward diverse yet interconnected challenges. UW researchers are analyzing issues around community resilience to extreme nature events caused by climate change; addressing systemic food and water insecurities; reducing the rate, burden and racial disproportionality of disease; and improving health in our rapidly changing world. Together with community groups, the initiative is transforming this research into concrete action to improve the health and well-being of people locally and globally. The Population Health Initiative has been a leader in conducting research on the pandemic’s effects on food insecurity, housing insecurity and vaccination inequity, in order to provide insight on how these effects can be mitigated in the future through more effective and resilient systems.
Every day, we find tremendous hope in how the UW community pulls together to listen, learn, act and improve the world. Together we are ready for whatever tomorrow might bring.
These initiatives are just two examples of the UW’s commitment to quality research and equity in higher education that would not be possible without federal investment. To scale our impact and push even further, we need continued federal help and engagement. We need our government to commit to investing in research and education and creating a welcoming and inclusive environment by action through national policies and structures that are available to all citizens and global visitors.
The UW’s research and innovation have driven the Washington state and U.S. economies for decades and will serve as a catalyst for recovery from the pandemic. The return on this investment is long-term and sustained. Our federal priorities for 2023 reflect a combination of our past accomplishments and a promise to continue to push the boundaries of excellence to serve our students, our state and our nation.
UW stories of impact
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UW experts are accelerating a quantum future
The UW has deep roots in quantum research and discovery. Two UW scientists have earned the Nobel Prize in Physics for quantum research, and the UW is one of a growing number of universities across the globe with quantum information programs. Thanks to partnerships with industry including Microsoft, Boeing, Google and Amazon, and with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), College of Engineering and College of Arts & Sciences researchers have been working to accelerate quantum research and teaching. In doing so, they are helping to situate the UW and Washington state as a leader in this area.
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