A Bad Time for Furloughs
Aloha Faculty members:
This afternoon, Gov. David Ige announced his plan to unilaterally implement furloughs for state employees, beginning Jan. 1, 2021.
UHPA is currently under a collective bargaining agreement through June 30, 2021, and has not agreed to the furlough plans presented by Gov. Ige.
UHPA strongly denounces this plan, joining the other public-sector unions to make it clear there will be an adverse impact to our local economy, as forewarned by the University of Hawai‘i Economic Organization (UHERO).
UHPA, the Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA), Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) and the United Public Workers (UPW) jointly issued a statement to the media explaining our position that has been published on our website.
Furloughs are Counterproductive
At a time when access to faculty and classes are most critical, furloughs are counterproductive. Last month, UH-Mānoa reported having the largest number of incoming freshmen for the fall 2019 semester in almost 40 years. The flagship Manoa campus welcomed 2,184 first-time freshman class — the largest class since 1981, boosting overall enrollment by 3.1% to 18,025 students.
Increase in Overall Student Enrollment
Overall, there was a small 0.8% decrease in overall student count across all 10 Hawaii campuses this past fall, but this was a much smaller decrease compared to other universities. Nationally, university enrollment dropped 3% and by 1.4% for public four-year universities, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Some community colleges also experienced enrollment increases: Kauai Community College showed a 6.4% increase and UH West O‘ahu also had a 3% increase in enrollment this past fall. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, community college enrollment overall declined by 3.2% this past fall semester over last year, but this was much less than the 9.4% drop for public two-year institutions nationwide.
UH: A Viable Choice for More Private High School Graduates
As a result of the pandemic, the role of the UH has become even more important for local families dealing with the challenges of the pandemic. Just under a third — 28.5% — of private school graduates in Hawaii enrolled at UH this past fall. There was a 20% increase in private high school graduates who chose to remain at home and attend the UH this past fall compared to a year ago.
Other Key Highlights:
- Enrollment by Native Hawaiian students reached a record high since reporting started in 2005. Students of Hawaiian ancestry now make up a quarter — 25.6% — of total enrollment.
- The proportion of students who are the first in their families to attend college also rose this year to 22.3%, the highest figure since that information started being tracked in 2015.
- Despite the pandemic, faculty were able to rapidly pivot to new ways of safely delivering instruction without disruption. As a result, six of UH’s seven community colleges saw increases in graduation success rates, and five of seven saw increases in on-time graduation. UH-Mānoa’s on-time graduation rate has improved every year since 2006 and now stands at a record-high.
There is too much at stake to implement furloughs at a time like this. The UH is an economic engine in our state and plays a key role in workforce development. We must continue the momentum and build our road to economic recovery, not tear it down before it even starts. We must create a resilient economy and avoid the social costs of furloughs. We believe our state deserves better and we look forward to more discussions with the Governor to explore other solutions to the state budget shortfall.