UH Hilo builds on large enrollment gains

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Date: Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Contact: Dr. Rose Tseng, (808) 974-7444

For Immediate Release

The University of Hawaii at Hilo continues to attract a record number of students, according to the latest enrollment figures. Fall 2004 shows a total enrollment of 3,365 students compared with 3,340 during Fall 2003.

This fall’s total represents a 0.7 percent increase, and comes on the heels of last year’s 8.9 percent jump. The increase extended a steady, upward trend that began in the fall of 1997, and has seen total enrollment increase by 25 percent. At the same time, it has created a growing need for additional housing to lay the foundation for future, long-term growth.

“Last year’s 8.9 percent increase in enrollment was an unprecedented number, so it should come as no surprise that the rate of progress would slow as we absorb those additional students, ” said Chancellor Rose Tseng. “While we welcome that increase, it is equally important to avoid out-growing our capacity to provide each and every one of our students with a quality experience.”

Housing has clearly emerged as the single biggest issue that will drive future growth. UH Hilo currently houses 622 students on campus, but has a combined waiting list of 350 students for its residence halls.

The University has been supplementing its on-campus housing through agreements of understanding with Hilo-area hotels and apartment buildings which currently house approximately 300 students. But the combined expansion in the University’s enrollment and the Hilo community in general suggests that there is little, if any, additional private housing resources to tap into.

“We tried calling apartment complexes, scanning newspaper ads, and even set up a housing action desk in our Housing Office in hopes of helping students find additional off-campus housing this summer,” said Dr. Keith Miser, vice chancellor for student affairs. “In past years, rental units have opened up on August 1st, but this year there’s been nothing since June 1st.”

Enrollment was also impacted by budgetary restrictions, which limited the University’s recruitment and marketing efforts. Last year saw fewer recruiting trips, broadcast and print ads, and other marketing activities than previous years.

The overall enrollment was driven by increases in a number of individual categories. The number of graduate and post-baccalaureate students rose from 81 to 114, or by 40 percent, fueled in part by the addition of new graduate programs in China – U.S. Relations and Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Sciences. UH Hilo has also enrolled 103 students from the National Student Exchange (NSE) for the fall semester. This marks the second year in a row that the University has attracted more than 100 NSE students for the fall semester, a trend reflecting UH Hilo’s standing as the second most popular university among NSE participants.

As in the past, UH Hilo was the “university of choice” for 2043 Hawai`i students, which make up 60 percent of the student body. Roughly one-third of the student body is made up from Big Island families and nearly 20 percent or one-fifth of the enrolled students come from the three Hilo-area high schools: Hilo; Waiakea; and St. Joseph.

“The body of evidence continues to support our contention that UH Hilo is recognized as a quality, full-service, comprehensive University and that growing numbers of students are either enrolling here or wanting to join our campus community,” Tseng said. “I have no doubt that any growth in our housing inventory will be met with an equal if not greater increase in enrollment.”

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