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UH Hilo enrollment reaches record high

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Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Contact: Dr. Rose Tseng, (808) 974-7444; Dr. Keith Miser, (808) 974-7334

For Immediate Release

Enrollment growth at the University of Hawaii at Hilo set a new record for Fall 2005, with enrollment totaling 3,431 students compared with 3,365 during Fall 2004.

Within the system, UH Hilo has the second highest percentage enrollment increase and the highest student – semester credit hour average. UH Hilo students are averaging 12.6 credits compared to 11.4 at UH Manoa and 8.5 at UH West O`ahu.

This fall’s two percent increase in headcount and the student credit hour figures have again validated UH Hilo’s leadership position in attracting students from throughout the State and the nation seeking a quality, comprehensive, residential university.

“Any time you set a new record, you’ve got to be pleased,” said Chancellor Rose Tseng. “This is a big accomplishment, but we would be growing by a lot more if housing wasn’t such a big barrier.”

The difference this year was the addition of a new housing source in the private sector, which increased the University’s off-campus bed spaces by 25 percent. Other factors included new graduate programs and additional sections of popular classes.

The addition of the Hawai`i Naniloa Hotel to existing agreements of understanding with Hilo-area hotels and apartment buildings provides the University with space for approximately 400 students, in addition to the 622 housed on campus. Even so, the waiting list for residence halls typically exceeds 300. That situation is unlikely to change, and may even get worse until more campus housing units come on line.

The University’s most immediate prospect for future housing remains the China-U.S. Center, which will house 800 when completed. The project’s first phase, which would accommodate 200, could still be ready by Fall 2006. Officials expect to know by early next year whether that timetable will be met.

A new residence hall complex slated for 16 acres on Nowelo Street below the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center would add another 600 – 1,000 bed spaces and would be built after the China-U.S. Center is completed.

The overall enrollment was driven by increases in a number of individual categories. A particular bright spot is UH Hilo’s popularity with National Student Exchange (NSE), a consortium of more than 170 colleges and universities throughout the mainland and Canada, founded in the 1970s. UH Hilo joined the program in 1973, and has since grown to become the nation’s second most popular exchange institution. A total of 90 NSE students have enrolled at UH Hilo this fall. Through this exchange, the University was able to accommodate several students this fall who were victims of Hurricane Katrina.

UH Hilo also continues to attract a large number of international students, who account for 12 percent of the overall student population. A total of 398 students from 36 countries enrolled this fall, compared with 355 in fall 2004. The University attracts the largest number of international students from Japan (116), Federated States of Micronesia (105), and Republic of Korea (47).

While developing new markets outside Hawai`i, the fall enrollment numbers also reflect UH Hilo’s commitment to attracting more students from throughout the State. This fall, UH Hilo was the “university of choice” for 2,036 Hawai`i students. Roughly one-third of the student body is made up of Big Island families and around 20 percent of the enrolled students come from the Hilo-area high schools: Hilo; Waiakea; and St. Joseph.

A development of particular pride this year has been the University’s academic resource management. Under ideal circumstances, students are able to get the classes they want, while classrooms have few, if any, empty chairs. Dr. Stephen Hora, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, said that goal was largely met.

“I’m pretty pleased with the job that our deans, division directors and department chairs did in this area,” Hora said. “If you take a look at our classes, we are filled, and most students are satisfied.”

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