One of the complaints we’ve heard about the University of Hawaii in the past is that it takes forever to graduate.

But that’s changing. Now, one out of every three students at UH Manoa graduates in four years.

The research and policy group Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) recognized the university’s accomplishments at a meeting Sunday in Washington, D.C.

Ten years ago, the University of Hawaii launched an initiative to encourage students to graduate within four years.

The Student Engagement, Retention and Graduation plan includes more than 30 initiatives that focus on improving student engagement and the quality of the student experience.

These initiatives include:

  • Developing an online degree audit system to engage students on their academic track,
  • Establishing an academic policy of mandatory advising for all students,
  • Creating four-year academic major plans to provide students with a clear path towards degrees, and
  • Establishing advising offices in the UH Community Colleges to better assist students transferring to Manoa.

Since then, university officials say rates have gone from 17.5 percent to a record-high 32 percent.

“Public universities are working hard to substantially increase the number of students who don’t just enroll in college, but actually make it across the finish line and earn all the benefits a college education provides,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “The University of Hawaii at Manoa has made significant strides in student retention and graduation over the last decade. We’re thrilled to highlight their efforts so other institutions can draw lessons from their success.”