The “on time” graduation rate at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2021 reached its highest level in history, with 39.7% of first-time, full-time freshmen earning their degrees in four years, according to data released by the university.
That’s more than double the rate from 10 years earlier. In 2011, UH-Manoa’s four-year graduation rate was 18.6%, according to a report from the Manoa Institutional Research Office.
The other nine UH campuses across the state also reported records in various graduation and retention metrics for the academic year 2020–21, the first full academic year affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
There has not been any easing of academic rigor, said UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl. Rather, he said, the improved graduation rates are attributed to two decades of concentrated efforts to advise and support students better so they stay on track for timely graduation.
For example, at Manoa, the course registration system now advises students how their choices of classes affect their projected graduation date, he said. Academic advising is now mandatory for all students. Meanwhile, advising offices have been established in the community colleges to assist students transferring to UH-Manoa.
“We are so proud of the improvements that we’ve seen over the last 10 or so years in the four-year graduation rate,” UH-Manoa Provost Michael Bruno said in a news release. “In my experience in several decades of academia, I’ve come to learn that the four-year graduation rate is on one hand, perhaps the most important, but also the most difficult to improve.”
Other highlights include:
>> Manoa’s five-year graduation rate rose from 44.6% in 2011 to 56.9% in 2021. And the six-year graduation rate — which is the official graduation rate used by the federal government — rose from 55.7% to 58.9%.
By comparison, the latest national data available, for 2016, showed the four-year graduation rate nationally for public universities and colleges is 40.7%, the five-year graduation rate is 58.1% and the six-year graduation rate is 62.4%, Meisenzahl said.
>> UH-West Oahu set a record for its four-year graduation rate (23%) for full-time first-time students. That campus, which has a high proportion of incoming transfer students, set a high six-year graduation rate for full-time transfers (66.5%) while its four-year rate held steady.
>> UH-Hilo reached its second-highest six-year graduation rate (42.7%) for full-time first-time students. The Hilo campus, which also serves many transfer students, set records with its three-year graduation rate (47.5%) and four-year graduation rate (58.1%) for full-time transfer students. Hilo also had its highest ever four-year graduation rate (47.9%) for part-time transfers.