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City eighth as college town


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POSTED: Saturday, October 10, 2009

An economic research group ranks Honolulu as among the top college cities in the country based on the student population, academic environment, quality of life and economic opportunity.

The American Institute for Economic Research recently ranked Honolulu eighth out of 124 metropolitan areas with a population of between 250,000 and 1 million in its recently released College Destinations Index.

The report notes that the metropolitan Honolulu area has 76 college students per 1,000 residents and that 7.4 percent are international students. Honolulu also has a lower unemployment rate than similar size cities and a high percentage of people who use public transportation or bike to work.

But Honolulu also had the highest average rent among top cities in its category at $1,631 for a two-bedroom apartment.

“;We thought it would be useful to look at something that measures the college experience beyond the campus itself,”; said Kerry Lynch, the senior economist at the institute. “;The location itself shapes your college experience.”;

The report compared cities and metropolitan areas in four categories: major metros, midsize metros, small cities and college towns.

New York, San Francisco and Boston topped the big-city category. San Jose, Calif.; Austin, Texas; and Hartford, Conn., were top ranked among midsize metros. Boulder, Colo.; Bridgeport, Conn.; and Ann Arbor, Mich., were the top metropolitan areas in Honolulu's category.

Ithaca, N.Y.; State College, Pa.; and Ames, Iowa, were the top college towns.

Linda Johnsrud, UH vice president for academic planning and policy, said she is “;delighted”; that Honolulu is ranked near college cities like Ann Arbor, Boulder and Madison, Wis.

“;The presence of a major research university (like UH-Manoa) makes a difference in a community,”; she said, in that it contributes to the quality of living, entrepreneurship and the economic vitality of a city.

The report also helps overcome the stereotype that “;Hawaii is just a tourist destination,”; said Scott Stensrud, vice president for enrollment management at Hawaii Pacific University. “;There's more than just fun in the sun.”;