Challenges Faced by Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Students in Higher Education

January 2, 2020

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Title:  Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Higher Education: A Call to Action

Source: APIA Scholars

Authors: Robert T. Teranishi, Annie Le, Rose Ann E. Gutierrez, Rikka Venturanza, ‘Inoke Hafoka, Demeturie Toso-Lafaele Gogue, and Lavinia Uluave

A report published by Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) Scholars documents enrollment trends and educational attainment outcomes among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) students in higher education.

The key findings include:

  • The proportion of the NHPI population that attended college (47 percent) was notably lower than that of the general U.S. population (54.9 percent). Among NHPI college attendees, roughly half failed to complete their degree. Further, the disparities in educational attainment between NHPI and the general population have persisted over the past decade.
  • NHPI enrollment declined for two-year and four-year institutions, but the percent change of the decline at two-year institutions was almost 7 times greater than at four-year institutions. Private for-profit institutions were the only sector that experienced a significant increase in NHPI undergraduate enrollment, with a 40.3 percent increase from 2012-2017.
  • Roughly 78 percent of the 67,814 NHPI were enrolled in postsecondary institutions in the continental United States rather than in Hawaii or the Pacific Islands.
  • Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions enrolled 14.1 percent of all undergraduates, but approximately 38 percent of all NHPI students.

The authors highlight the importance of understanding and addressing the unique challenges faced by this community in postsecondary education, and call for more research and attention from policy makers.

Click here to read the full report.

—Yuan He

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