UH-Manoa and Hilo breaking caps on enrollment
A Board of Regents policy adopted in 2002 limits the number of nonresident students
In 2002, the University of Hawaii regents adopted a policy to cap the number of nonresident students at 30 percent.
Since then, UH-Manoa has violated the cap in all but one year and the Hilo campus has never complied with the policy.
While university officials see UH's primary mission as educating state residents, mainland and international students pay higher tuition, providing a powerful incentive for accepting nonresidents.
The policy elicits strong opinions from the student body, with some wanting it enforced and others saying UH needs the extra money.
University officials say they are re-examining the cap and plan to revisit the policy with the regents in the coming months.
Today and tomorrow, Star-Bulletin reporter Craig Gima examines the enrollment cap and the economic impact of international students on Hawaii's community colleges.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa and UH-Hilo have continually violated an enrollment cap limiting the number of mainland and international students who can attend Hawaii's public colleges and universities.
The Board of Regents policy, adopted in 2002, caps nonresident enrollment at UH-Manoa, UH-Hilo and UH-West Oahu at 30 percent of the total student body and nonresident enrollment at community colleges at 15 percent. According to the policy, "a public university's first responsibility is to provide higher education opportunities for qualified students from the community that supports it."
At UH-Hilo last fall, about 38 percent of the 3,507 students at the school were from out of state. At UH-Manoa, about 33 percent of the 20,357 students were nonresidents, according to Linda Johnsrud, the UH vice president for academic planning and policy.
UH-Hilo has never met the cap, while UH-Manoa was in compliance only once, in fall 2003.
UH is reviewing the enrollment cap and will bring the issue to the regents in a few months, in light of growing international student enrollment in the community colleges.
"I think the policy is good," said Chance Moleta, a UH-Manoa student from Hawaii. "They should enforce it. You need to take care of local people."
Some students disagree.
"They should take whoever wants to come. They need the money," said Stefanie Opalinski of Pennsylvania, who is attending summer school at UH-Manoa.
Money is an incentive for campuses to take more out-of-state students. Most pay nonresident tuition, which creates more tuition revenue for campuses.
For example, last fall at Kapiolani Community College, nonresident students made up only about 12 percent of the student body, but paid a little more than half of the campus' $8.5 million in tuition revenue.
Nonresident students at UH-Hilo also paid slightly more than half of the school's tuition income last year.
But Kitty Lagareta, chairwoman of the Board of Regents, said that as a taxpayer-supported institution UH has to make sure there are enough resources and dorm and classroom space for local students before the university can look at bringing in more out-of-state students.
"We're just now beginning to address the backlog of dorm problems and facilities problems that have been festering for 25 years," Lagareta said. "I want to make sure we have the infrastructure to support them (students)."
Hawaii high school students also have a lower college-attendance rate than many other states, with only 52 percent going on to college after graduation. Of those who go to college, 30 percent go to the mainland.
Even with the influx of mainland students to Hawaii, a U.S. Department of Education study showed 366 more first-year college students left Hawaii for school than came into the state in 2004.
UH's Johnsrud said campuses need to do more to recruit local students, especially nontraditional students who might not have gone to college right out of high school.
"Without the cap, there simply is an incentive to get more nonresidents because they pay more tuition," Johnsrud said.
Hawaii is one of a handful of states that have statewide policies on nonresident enrollment.
Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Virginia all have caps, ranging from 18 percent to 33 percent.
Even if there isn't a statewide policy, individual institutions, especially the flagship universities where there is more competition to get admitted, have enrollment caps.
Other states like Montana welcome nonresidents for economic development, viewing higher education as a "clean" industry. Nonresident students spend money on goods and services, food, entertainment and housing.
"The number of resident and nonresident students has a tremendous impact on the economy of Hilo," said Keith Miser, vice chancellor for student affairs at UH-Hilo.
Scott Stensrud, vice president of enrollment management at Hawaii Pacific University, said there is no question higher education brings money into the state.
Just look at graduation and all the money parents spend coming to Hawaii to see their children walk in ceremonies, Stensrud said.
As a private college, HPU is not subject to enrollment caps, and it sees a diverse student body as an advantage.
"The mission of the university is to graduate students who are going to live, work and learn in a global society," Stensrud said.
He said HPU has a goal of reaching a balance of about a third each of local, mainland and international students. But last fall, about 47 percent of HPU's 8,000 students came from Hawaii, while 30 percent were from the mainland and 23 percent from other countries.
"HPU is a popular place for out-of-state and international students," said Lagareta, the regent. "But is that the role for a public institution like the University of Hawaii?"
Tomorrow: Hawaii's community colleges are attracting international students.