UH Hilo fall enrollment maintains upward trend

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Sep 11, 2008

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo continues to build on its steady climb in fall enrollment that began in 1998. Preliminary figures released by the University of Hawaiʻi System for Fall 2008 show UH Hilo‘s student population grew by 178 students to 3,786, or 4.9 percent over the previous year.

"We‘re very pleased that we‘ve been able to continue growing at a steady, sustainable pace," said Chancellor Rose Tseng. "To do so over such a lengthy period of time suggests that UH Hilo is playing a major role in helping the State in its need to produce a more educated, professional workforce."

Part of this year‘s increase can be attributed to the College of Pharmacy (CoP), which seated its second class of 90 students. The College will continue to produce net gains by admitting two more classes of approximately 90 students before awarding its first Doctorate of Pharmacy degrees in 2011.

Another contributing factor was an increase in freshman admissions. First-time freshman applications this fall totaled 2,043, or 14 percent more than the 1,785 received last year. The University accepted 1,139 or 13 percent more than Fall 2007, with 548 or 8 percent more enrolling than the 508 who did so a year ago.

Much of the additional freshman class can be attributed to an increase in applications and acceptances on behalf of Hawaiʻi residents, under the University‘s resident-focused recruitment plan. Overall, UH Hilo attracted 2,590 students from Hawaiʻi, or 278 more than last year. Resident students now make up over 68 percent of the entire student body, compared to just under 65 percent in Fall 2007.

The increase in students from Hawaiʻi is reflected in the continuing growth in students of Native Hawaiian ancestry. This fall saw the number of Native Hawaiian students increase by 99 to 826, or 21.8 percent of the overall student population.

As the percentage of resident students has gone up, the number of non-resident students has inversely demonstrated an intended gradual decline. The number of students from outside Hawaiʻi now totals 1,196, or 31.6 percent of the overall total, compared to 35 percent a year ago.

UH Hilo also earned a top System honor by posting the highest student — semester credit hour average. UH Hilo students are averaging 12.73 credits compared to 11.38 at UH Manoa.

Dr. Luoluo Hong, vice chancellor for student affairs, believes UH Hilo has succeeded in establishing a "feng shui" approach to growth, one that balances the needs of students in the State with the limitations of the existing staff, facility and fiscal resources available at UH Hilo. She says that this steady but moderate climb to UH Hilo‘s targeted enrollment of 5,000 will benefit students in the long run.

"Every campus has a critical mass at which it can operate most efficiently. The one thing we don‘t want is for the rate of growth to outstrip our capacity to meet the needs of our students," Hong shared. "This rate of manageable, sustained growth will enable UH Hilo to develop in a controlled fashion by gradually introducing new academic programs as student demand and workforce needs materialize. And as we enroll more students, we also reach an economy of scale in which we can offer more amenities and services to support student success — the kinds of things that enhance our students‘ living-learning community and make UH Hilo an even more attractive campus of choice."