Office of the Chancellor

Enrollment Management Action Plan

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UH Hilo is characterized as a comprehensive, regional university. The primary focus of the campus is on providing high quality baccalaureate and select postgraduate education. In carrying out this mission, UH Hilo offers programs that take advantage of the unique physical and social characteristics of the island, attracting and serving students who are qualified for baccalaureate entry and seek opportunities for highly engaging and experiential learning. This includes first-generation and non-traditional students, some of whom attend part-time. Scholarship and research are an important part of faculty work and enhance student engagement in the unique learning environment of Hawaiʻi island.

While a primary target for UH Hilo is residents of Hawaiʻi Island, the quality programs are attractive to prospective students from other islands, the Pacific, the mainland U.S. and other countries. University-bound students from Oʻahu in particular may select UH Hilo not only for its distinctive undergraduate programs but also for its more rural setting, affordability, intimate character, and/or to leave home without leaving the state.

In addition to its undergraduate programs, UH Hilo currently offers 7 masters and 4 doctoral degree programs, 3 of each are not offered elsewhere in the state.

UH Hilo is known for its distinctive role in advancing Hawaiian language immersion education and continues to prepare teachers for service in immersion schools. For the purposes of this enrollment management plan, we will focus on undergraduate programs only. Separately, UH Hilo efforts at the postgraduate level will focus on ensuring the quality, relevance and enrollment level of its current graduate programs, including providing professional opportunity for residents of Hawaiʻi island.

Enrollment Trends

Over the 2012-2016 period, the total headcount enrollment at UH Hilo has declined steadily from 4157 to 3666, representing 2.5%-4.3% decreases each year. This decline is attributable to both recruitment and retention. Spring 2017 marked the first increase in new classified students since Spring 2012.

The first to second year retention rate has fluctuated over the last decade with a recent significant gain from 63.2% in 2014 to 70.9% in 2015. We have identified majors with the most significant attrition after the first year, and initiated focused advising efforts to address them. The DFIW rate of first year courses have been variable over the same period with notable gains in key classes such as MATH 103 (up by 36.8%) and CHEM 141 (up by 41.5%).

Analysis of the Spring 2017 data indicated that attrition of freshmen and seniors is currently equal, with sophomores and juniors being 50% better. The 4-year graduation rate improved from 12.2% in 2009 to 18.7% in 2016, whereas the 6-year graduation rate saw a slight decrease from 36.9% in 2011 to 24.9% in 2016.

UH Hilo Historical Enrollment Fall 2007 to Fall 2016

Figure 1: UH Hilo Historical Enrollment Fall 2007 to Fall 2016

Current EM Practices


UH Hilo has developed a new brand focused on our unique academic and cultural setting, the quality of our academic and research experiences, and our commitment to access to higher education and student success. We have shifted recruitment efforts by strengthening our impacts in social media and piloting text messaging to students. Several initiatives out of our Enrollment Services unit have reduced the number of barriers that students face between the time of application to the University and registration into classes. For the past two years, we have provided and plan to continue providing a PREP event to help new students register into classes using the GPS-STAR registration system.


We have made some significant strides in advising efforts across campus. The Advising Center has taken the lead in making advising to freshmen and declaring a major after 60 credits mandatory. Advising beyond the freshman year done in academic units includes some new initiatives. As a pilot, the [College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) has dedicated academic advisors and/or peer-advisors in the areas of Psychology/Kinesiology, Pre-Nursing, and Marine Science. Further, we have begun a multipronged approach with early engagement of students through University 101 and embedded peer tutors in key first year courses.

Overall, we have ramped up communications to current students. The CAS Associate Dean has reached out to individual students on academic warning and probation to assist them in connecting with resources such as special population support programs. Utilizing a new listserv process, Financial Aid has increased its communication to students through weekly email reminders to students about requirements and deadlines and increased notifications to students regarding their financial aid academic progress status.


Several colleges are streamlining curricula. College of Business and Economics is developing “Journey to Success”, a cohort-based matriculation model that connects each student with a career mentor from the business community. College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management is allowing reasonable academic modifications to major requirements to graduate students in a timely manner. College of Arts and Sciences have created two new tracks in liberal studies, Health Care Administration and Community Health Education, to service pre-nursing students unable to gain acceptance to the BSN program. The recently hired curriculum and catalog coordinator has made significant improvements in resolving curricular glitches by working with faculty, which has been helpful for transitioning to the new STAR.

Enrollment Targets

IRAO projections point to a gradual decline in overall enrollment that begins to flatten in Fall 2021. However, proactive implementation of new actions and strategies are anticipated to create gains in new student recruitment and retention. These are projected to result in enrollment growth beginning in Fall 2018, after a 1.2% decline in Fall 2017. Starting from 2017-2018, we have a goal of a 2% increase for new students. We are focusing on Hawaiʻi Island and Hawaiʻi State freshmen and transfers from UH Community Colleges. From Fall 2018, we plan to hold steady on the goal of an average 2% increase each year.

With focused initiatives across the campus starting in Fall 2017, we have a goal of increasing retention from 70.9% to 75% starting from 2018-2019. We are using the IPEDS definition of retention for four-year institutions, which is the percentage of first-time bachelors (or equivalent) degree-seeking undergraduates from the previous fall who are again enrolled in the current fall.

Priority Measure Actual Fall 2016 Count Past 3-Year Average Growth Targeted Enrollment Count 2020
4-Year Total Enrollment
Targeted Enrollment Count 2020
4-Year % Change
Targeted Enrollment Count 2020
Total Enrollment 3,666 -3.2% 3,905 6.5% 239
Total enrollment of targeted groups 1,095 6.1% 1,465 3.4% 370
1 Targeted Undergraduates 902 -7.3% 1,272 41.0% 370
1a First time Freshmen 369 -9.3% 440 19.2% 71
1b Transfer 533 -5.8% 547 2.6% 14
1c1 Retention (increase from 70.9% to 75%) 0 -4.1% 285 NA 285
2 Graduate 193 1.0% 193 0% 0
Priority Fall 2017 % Change from Previous Year Fall 2018 % Change from Previous Year Fall 2019 % Change from Previous Year Fall 2020 % Change from Previous Year
Total Enrollment 3,620 -1.3% 3,710 2.5% 3,805 2.6% 3,905 2.6%
Total enrollment of targeted group 1,117 2.0% 1,232 10.3% 1,253 1.7% 1,280 2.2%
1 924 2.4% 1,039 12.4% 1,060 2.0% 1,087 2.5%
1a 400 8.4% 422 5.5% 428 1.4% 440 2.8%
1b 524 -1.7% 527 0.6% 537 1.9% 547 1.9%
1c2 0 NA 90 NA 95 NA 100 NA
2 193 0% 193 0% 193 0% 193 0%

Tactics/Actions to be Taken to Achieve Targets Above:

UH Hilo has identified the following strategies and tactics to aid in achieving the proposed targets.

  1. Increase enrollment of first time students
    1. Streamline recruitment efforts, especially on Hawaiʻi Island
    2. Strengthen partnerships with Department of Education and local high schools
    3. Revise recruiting materials and outreach
    4. Refine financial aid strategy
    5. Revise New Student Orientation
  2. Increase enrollment of transfer students
    1. Streamline recruitment efforts, especially with UH Community Colleges
    2. Increase the number of 2+2 pathways with Hawaiʻi Community College in strategic majors
    3. Identify specific majors and regions for targeted, enhanced recruiting efforts on other islands
    4. Coordinate recruitment efforts targeting West Coast Community Colleges
  3. Increase retention of students in their first year; increase from 70% to 80% for both first-time freshmen and first year transfer students
    1. Implement early alert measures
    2. Expand peer mentoring to additional high-demand majors
    3. Develop a coordinated First Year Experience Program, including a Transfer Success Center
    4. Offer summer-bridge programs to better prepare incoming students for success
    5. Increase the number of residential and non-residential living learning communities for first-time freshmen
  4. Increase engagement of students with their major and with the island community to enhance retention after their first year
    1. Establish peer tutoring programs in key gateway courses (ENG 100 , ENG 100T , MATH 103 , and MATH 135 ) and prepare majors to serve as paid tutors
    2. Expand community service and internship projects as part of curricula to contextualize lesson content
    3. Engage students in career pathways through exploratory classes (SOC 200 , UNIV 102 ) and career advising
  5. Develop new sources of students
    1. Recruit stopped-out and other adult learners to finish degrees at UH Hilo
    2. Identify one or two new interdisciplinary majors that can be implemented without significant new resources that will attract and retain undergraduate students
    3. Develop attractive hybrid online courses or degree programs


The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is in the process of hiring an Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, whose roles will include facilitating implementation and assessment of our enrollment management plan. We are committed to working in partnership as we strengthen our capacity for recruitment, retention and graduation across the campus. With guidance from the two AVC’s, we plan to regularly review data targets, practices, and strategies. Adjustments to implementation and strategies will be made as appropriate based on an analysis of outcomes.

  1. The count in the 4-Year Total Enrollment column is cumulative (Fall 2017 through Fall 2020). ↩︎

  2. The counts shown are annual counts. ↩︎