The University of Hawaii at Manoa
Value of international education sector down in Hawaii

The international education sector in the U.S. state of Hawaii decreased by around 25 per cent in the 2016/17 academic year, according to estimates released by the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT), with fewer students and shorter average stays.

The annual The Economic Impact of International Students in Hawaii - 2017 Update report released by DBEDT this month, shows that the sector was worth US$225.3 million in 2016/17 in direct contributions, compared with more than US$300 million in the previous year.


The 2016/17 figure was higher than the US$205 million economic impact estimated in 2014/15.


The report was based on survey responses from 27 educational institutions in Hawaii, which enrolled a total of 10,803 international students, compared with the previous year's survey which covered 31 schools and 12,200 students.


DBEDT urged caution over year-on-year comparisons due to the different mix of reporting schools, but said the respondents represented the majority of the sector. Most of the non-responding institutions were vocational colleges with relatively few students, it said.


However, it said that almost every institution hosting international students reported lower enrolments in the last year.


In a statement, DBEDT said the decline represented part of a broader trend of lower enrolments across the USA. "We continue to promote cross-cultural understanding with international student exchanges to develop a global citizenry that we all desire," said Governor David Ige. "We understand the important role that education plays in cultivating the leaders of tomorrow into responsible global citizens."


The total value figure was comprised of US$124.7 million in tuition fees and US$11.6 million in living expenses. The long-term sector, which accounted for 3,861 students, was valued at US$136.5 million, while the short-term industry (6,942 students) contributed US$88.8 million. The average spend per student was estimated at US$24,139, the authors said.


Japan remained comfortably the largest source country for Hawaii's schools with 3,318 students, but significantly fewer than the 4,927 students recorded in the 2015/16 survey.


Korea was the second-largest supplier with 1,061 students - a slight decrease - followed by China (695), Switzerland (667) and Taiwan (242). All of the top five source countries, and eight of the top 10, declined in the 2016/17 survey.


Dennis Ling, Administrator for the Business Development and Support Division, which leads the programme for international student exchanges said, "We continue to work with our education partners to attract more foreign students to our classrooms. Although there was a year-over-year decline, foreign students studying in Hawaii is very much a significant industry contributing much to our economy."


DBEDT said it was partnering with the 29-member Study Hawaii consortium of schools to launch an International Student Ambassador programme and to host fam trips to promote the state as a study destination.


Hawaii's international education sector was recently at the centre of legal disputes over President Trump's Executive Order banning travel from six countries in the Middle East and Africa.


In March, Hawaii Federal Judge Derrick Watson issued a Temporary Restraining Order on the travel ban, hours before it was due to be implemented, with losses - both monetary and non-monetary - to the university sector cited as one of the reasons.


The TRO was upheld by the U.S. Appeals Court in June, but a week later the Supreme Court allowed for 'partial implementation' of the ban until a full hearing in October.



By Matthew Knott

News Editor