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January 2018

Hawaii wants to ride international wave


Educational institutions in the US state of Hawaii say they want to double their international student numbers, reaching 24,000 students a year, by 2026.

Study Hawaii Educational Consortium announced its plan at the opening ceremony of International Education Week in capital Honolulu last month.

State governor David Ige said that international education helps promote peace around the world, and that local students greatly benefit from a truly global classroom.

But numbers are not the whole story. Study Hawaii, representing 28 institutions on the islands, says it intends to change the narrative about the Aloha State, whose status as an education destination has been often overshadowed by its success in the tourism industry.

The consortium has partnered with marketing intelligence agency StudentMarketing to develop an ambitious strategic plan (see more on page 35) in a bid to gain support from state legislators.

Hawaii suffered a decrease in the number of international students last year. According to a survey conducted by its Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), total direct spending of international students went down from $301,912,747 in 2016 to $225,316,831 in 2017 – a decrease of about 25 per cent.

DBEDT’s Dennis Ling said there was a perception that the US was less safe and less welcoming than other countries. ‘But Hawaii is different,’ he said. With Hawaii sporting one of the strictest gun laws in the US and some of the most diverse university campuses (Hawaii Pacific University was named the most diverse private institution in the country in 2016), Ling may just be right.

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