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Diversity the norm at HPU

by Kehaulani Christian, staff writer


In the fall 2003 semester, 1,432 international students attended HPU, making it one of the most culturally diverse universities in the world.

On average, 18 percent of the student population is comprised of international students from more than 100 countries. Anyone entering HPU’s International Center, Suite 1100 in the “UB” building at 1164 Bishop St., is surrounded by the flags of all the countries of origin of HPU’s international students.


On its Web site, HPU markets itself as an opportunity for students to acquire an American education in an international setting because the University is strategically located in the center of the Pacific Rim, the region with the fastest growing economies in the world. It is no accident that three of the five countries sending the most students to HPU are from the Pacific Rim: Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. Malaysia and Indonesia used to be in the top five, but in recent years students from these countries have found it difficult to get educational visas. In 2003, countries number four and five were Sweden and Germany.

Once an international student decides to attend HPU he or she has a wide array of services available specifically to help them during their academic career.

The staff of the International Center helps students prepare for HPU. Upon their arrival, the center provides International Student Orientation sessions, and it recommends that each student attend at least one of these. The International Student Services office on the fifth floor of the First Hawaiian Tower (FH building), 1132 Bishop St., offers a staff of trained specialists who can advise students and help them adapt to their new home.

At the University’s libraries, international students can access more than 50 international newspapers and magazines to keep them up-to-date with what is going on at home.

HPU publishes an International Student Handbook that contains all of the information an international student may need. It includes everything from information about HPU and Hawai‘i to American life, the Honolulu bus system, and banking.

HPU also has a PAL program to assist international students enrolled in beginning–level English classes. International students have the opportunity to pair up with volunteer tutors to practice their English- speaking skills. Other speaking opportunities, outside the classroom, come from HPU’s more than 85 (this year) officially affiliated student clubs and organizations, many of which are ethnically oriented.

HPU showcases its diversity on Intercultural Day, an annual event at which international students can share their home culture, costumes, language, and values with the other students.

If one of HPU’s missions is to make sure every student is a global citizen, HPU’s diversity is also a reason why so many students flock from other nations to go to school in paradise.

Many of these international students said the Number 1 reason they attend HPU was because passing TOEFL, the Test of English as a Foreign Language, is not a requirement for admission. Furthermore, according to Miho Preble of the International Center, students can enroll in HPU’s English Foundation Program (EFP) to bring their English to acceptable levels. (In contrast. the University of Hawai‘i requires that international students pass the TOEFL test before they can enroll.) At HPU, students who can pas the TOFEL test may skip the EFP classes and immediately begin their undergraduate or graduate degree program.

The EFP program has four levels. International students take a placement test to determine at which level they will begin. After completing level four, students automatically start a degree program. Preble says that HPU’s EFP program has a great reputation for quality and academic strictness, but students beginning at level one will add at least a year and a half to their degree program.

According to the International Center, there are several other reason why international students come to HPU to study. For Asian students, Hawai‘i is the closest state at which they can acquire an American education, and some Asian students have relatives here. Many European students come because they are able to receive some type of scholarship or financial aid from their government to support their study abroad. The governments of Norway and Sweden tend to pay for the majority of the expenses for students from these countries.



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