UH system sees enrollment drop
The 1,087-student decline was felt most at community colleges
Enrollment for the 10 University of Hawaii campuses declined by 1,087 students, or 2.3 percent, to 46,392 students -- the first drop in five years, according to preliminary enrollment figures released yesterday.
Most of the declining enrollments occurred in the community colleges, which is an indication of the strong job market, said Linda Johnsrud, university vice president for academic planning and policy.
She said students are probably deciding to make money rather than spending it on tuition and fees.
"Individuals have options on whether to accept job offers or further their education," Johnsrud said.
UH-Hilo was the only campus to see an increase for the semester with 53 more students, up 1.6 percent from last spring to 3,269 students.
The number of students attending UH-Hilo has risen since 1999.
Neighbor island community colleges saw the biggest percentage drops in enrollment, with Hawaii Community College down 10.8 percent, the Kauai campus down 9.8 percent and the Maui campus down 6.4 percent.
Overall enrollment at the community colleges was 23,239, down 1,058 students, or 4.4 percent, from a year ago.
UH-Manoa and UH-West Oahu enrollments remained relatively flat compared with spring 2005.
UH-Manoa's enrollment this spring semester stands at 19,081, which is down 80 students, or 0.4 percent, from a year ago.
UH-West Oahu's enrollment stands at 803, a decrease of two students, or 0.2 percent, from a year ago.
The decline this spring continues a trend that began in the fall, when an estimated 50,309 students were in the UH system, a decline of 493 students from fall 2004, or 1 percent.
At that time the community colleges also saw most of the declining enrollment, while all three four-year campuses saw slight increases.
Enrollment is generally higher in the fall than in the spring.
Johnsrud said the decline in enrollment relieves some overcrowding on the campuses caused by the enrollment surge of the last few years.
But she said the university still has fixed costs that must be covered even when fewer students attend and tuition revenue declines.
She said the tuition increase scheduled to start in the fall could hurt enrollment. It might also send some students to the community colleges, where tuition is cheaper, rather than to the flagship UH-Manoa campus.
The university has to get the message out that the tuition increase comes with increased financial aid, Johnsrud said.
She added that the increase is also in line with what is happening at other campuses across the country.