3 students in commencement gown with sunset behind them

Most UH graduation rates are up and student retention remains strong across the 10 campuses of the University of Hawaiʻi based on 2019–20 academic year data, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the significant disruption to the 2020 spring and fall semesters.

Eight UH campuses saw increases in the 150% graduation/success rate, the official rate used by the federal government. In addition, seven campuses saw increases in their 100% (on-time) graduation rates. The 100% and 150% rates represent 2 and 3 years at the seven UH community colleges, and 4 and 6 years at the three UH universities. These graduation/success rates are based on the outcomes as of the 2019–2020 academic year for students who enrolled 2 or 3 years ago (community colleges) and 4 or 6 years ago (universities).

“The continuing improvement in UH graduation rates, even in the face of the COVID-19 disruptions in the last academic year, is a credit to the work of our dedicated faculty, staff and leaders,” said UH President David Lassner. “More than a decade ago, administrators at the system and campus levels made this a priority and began to identify and remove barriers to timely graduation, and that work continues.”

UH Mānoa’s on-time graduation rate has improved every year since 2006 and now stands at a record high 37.1%, an increase of 0.5 percentage points from the prior year. The campus was nationally recognized in 2017 for its dramatic improvement in on-time graduation. The six-year graduation rate at UH Mānoa is also at a record high of 61.8% after improving by 1.3 percentage points. UH West Oʻahu saw some of the largest increases in the UH System with a remarkable 11.1 percentage point jump to 38.7% and an increase in on-time graduation of 5.8 percentage points to record 19.2%.

  • UH Mānoa—six-year: 61.8% (+1.3 percentage points), on-time: 37.1% (+0.5 percentage points)
  • UH West Oʻahu—six-year: 38.7 percent (+11.1 percentage points), on-time: 19.2% (+5.8 percentage points)
  • UH Hilo—six-year: 37.9 percent (-6.2 percentage points), on-time: 26.3% (-1 percentage points)

Six of UH’s seven community colleges saw increases in the 150% success rate, which includes transfers to other institutions, and five of seven saw increases in on-time graduation. Kauaʻi CC experienced the largest increase in on-time graduation with an 8.1 percentage point growth to 24.8%. Kapiʻolani CC saw the largest increase in the 150% success rate with a 2.3 percentage point rise to 41.4%.

  • Hawaiʻi CC—150% success rate: 38.6 percent (+0.9 percentage points), on-time: 22.8% (+0.9 percentage points)
  • Honolulu CC—150% success rate: 44.9 percent (+0.2 percentage points), on-time: 25.9v (+1.2 percentage points)
  • Kapiʻolani CC—150% success rate: 41.4 percent (+2.8 percentage points/), on-time: 16.5% (-2.8 percentage points)
  • Kauaʻi CC—150% success rate: 37.1 percent (+0.6 percentage points/), on-time: 24.8% (+8.1% percentage points)
  • Leeward CC—150% success rate: 39.0 percent (+2.0 percentage points), on-time: 17.5% (+1.8 percentage points)
  • UH Maui College—150% success rate: 38.2 percent (+0.4 percentage points), on-time: 19.4% (+1.4 percentage points)
  • Windward CC—150% success rate: 38.0 percent (-4.0 percentage points), on-time: 15.9% (-3.3 percentage points)

Fall 2020 Retention Rates

Student retention saw some declines but held steady or improved across UH’s 10 campuses, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with Hawaiʻi residents. The one-year retention rate tracks first-time, full-time freshmen who enrolled in fall 2019 and returned in fall 2020. The COVID-19 health crisis impacted students in multiple ways beyond courses moving online including disruption in employment, tuition affordability and challenges in child and family care. Despite the pandemic, five campuses had the highest resident freshmen retention rates since 2014: five campuses had the highest resident freshmen retention rates since 2014: UH Manoa—87.5%, UH Hilo—75.8%, Honolulu CC—55.7%, Kapiʻolani CC—70.2% and Kauaʻi CC—69.2%.

“This is a testament to many. Our students chose to persevere and continue their pursuit of higher education,” said Lassner. “It is proof of their resilience and it bodes well for the future of our state. Our students could not have succeeded without the amazing work of our faculty, who moved courses online with little warning, and the dedicated staff who support our students and faculty across our campuses day in and day out.”

UH Mānoa dropped 1.1 percentage points in overall student retention rate from last year’s record high to 80%, UH Hilo decreased by 1.5 percentage points to 71.2% and UH West Oʻahu fell by 1.9 percentage points to 74.5%. One-year retention rates increased at four of the seven UH Community Colleges: Honolulu CC, Kauaʻi CC, Leeward CC and Windward CC. Kauaʻi CC had the largest improvement, going from 57.1% to 68.4%, about a 20% increase.

  • UH Mānoa: 2019—81.1%, 2020—80%
  • UH West Oʻahu: 2019—76.4% , 2020—74.5%
  • UH Hilo: 2019—72.7%, 2020—71.2%
  • Hawaiʻi CC: 2019—64.3%, 2020—62.2%
  • Honolulu CC: 2019—50.9%, 2020—56.1%
  • Kapiʻolani CC: 2019—68.7%, 2020—68.6%
  • Kauaʻi CC: 2019—57.1%, 2020—68.4%
  • Leeward CC: 2019—64.3%, 2020—64.9%
  • UH Maui College: 2019—67.3%, 2020—61.5%
  • Windward CC: 2019—60.2%, 2020—61.9%