The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, UH West Oʻahu and Kauaʻi Community College saw headcount enrollment increases this fall while the entire 10-campus system saw the smallest overall decline since the end of the last recession. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout, overall UH enrollment declined 0.8%, from 49,977 students in fall 2019 to 49,594 current students, the smallest overall decline since 2012 when enrollment was near record high levels.
Enrollment declined 3% overall in the United States in fall 2020, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s latest enrollment numbers, released October 15, 2020. Nationally, four-year public university enrollment is down 1.2%, and community colleges are down 9.4%. By comparison, UH‘s four year universities are up 1.9% and the UH community colleges are down 3.2%.
Despite enrollment being basically flat, tuition revenue systemwide is expected to be slightly lower due in part to fewer out-of-state students who pay higher tuition rates.
“These enrollment numbers are welcome news,” said UH President David Lassner. “The University of Hawaiʻi has a critical role to play in assisting Hawaiʻi out of this crisis and helping navigate the way to a more sustainable future for our people and our islands. My congratulations and thanks to the many hardworking staff and leaders across the system who worked tirelessly under extraordinarily challenging conditions to bring the life changing benefits of higher education to nearly fifty thousand students in the midst of a pandemic.”
UH Mānoa, UH West Oʻahu and UH Hilo
The flagship campus of the UH System saw a 3.1% increase in enrollment to 18,025 students. It is the largest enrollment increase and the highest headcount for UH Mānoa since 2016. First-time freshman enrollment at UH Mānoa reached 2,184 marking the second annual straight increase and the highest number recorded since fall 1981.
The enrollment at UH West Oʻahu reached an all-time high with a record 3,168 students, a 3.9% increase from fall 2019.
Although enrollment dropped at UH Hilo by 6 percent, the number of first-time freshmen at UH Hilo increased for the second straight year from 449 to 462, the highest number since fall 2013.
Classified undergraduate transfers within the UH system increased 1.9% over fall 2019. Transfers into UH Mānoa increased 16.5% and transfers into UH West Oʻahu increased 18.6%.
UH Community Colleges
Enrollment at UH’s seven community colleges dropped by 3.2% overall to 25,236 students but has increased slightly for underserved communities. That is a lower decline than the national decline in college enrollment of 7.5%. During the last recession UH community colleges experienced a rapid increase in enrollment, but that increase did not begin at the outset of the recession. One bright spot is the increase in enrollment at Kauaʻi CC, the only UH community college that experienced an increase in overall enrollment with a 6.4% gain.
Underrepresented groups and local high school students
Students who identify at Native Hawaiians make up 25.6% of total enrollment, a record high since Hawaiian ancestry reporting began in fall 2005. Native Hawaiians or part-Hawaiians make up 21.3% of the state’s population.
First generation students, those who are the first in their families to attend college, make up 22.3% of total enrollment. This is the highest percentage since the university started tracking in fall 2015.
The going rate (college participation rate) of Hawaiʻi high school graduates into the UH system increased by 1.3 percentage points in fall 2020 to 31.9%. The going rate of public high school graduates to UH was up by 0.5 percentage points to 32.8%, while the going rate of private high school graduates increased by 4.7 percentage points to 28.5%.
“We need to continue to build on these successes,” said Lassner. “Higher education is the most powerful tool we know to increase social and economic mobility for those who need help the most and benefits families and communities across the state.”
UH fall 2020 headcount enrollment—census numbers
- UH System—49,594 students (-0.8 percent)
- UH universities (UH Mānoa, UH Hilo, UH West Oʻahu)—24,358 (+1.9%)
- UH Mānoa—18,025 students (+3.1 percent)
- UH Hilo—3,165 students (-6.1 percent)
- UH West Oʻahu—3,168 (+3.9 percent)
- UH Community Colleges (all)—25,236 students (-3.2 percent)
- Hawaiʻi Community College—2,430 students (-7.1 percent)
- Honolulu Community College—3,378 students (-3.8 percent)
- Kapiʻolani Community College—6,369 students (-1.8 percent)
- Kauaʻi Community College—1,461 students (+6.4 percent)
- Leeward Community College—6,363 students (-3.1 percent)
- UH Maui College—2,936 students (-1.9 percent)
- Windward Community College—2,299 students (-8.8 percent)