Asian American, Pacific Islander Data Collection Launches

Ricardo Vázquez, UC Newsroom, November 16, 2007

The University of California will become the first public higher education institution in the state to collect and report data on Hmong and other Asian American groups through substantial additions to the ethnic categories on its undergraduate application, University officials announced today (Nov. 16).

The changes are intended to better capture the complexity of its Asian American and Pacific Islander student population.

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Next year’s undergraduate application will include 23 Asian American and Pacific Islander categories, nearly a threefold increase compared with the eight categories currently recorded.

For example, UC will report application, admissions and enrollment data for Hmong and Tongan students. Eighty percent of California’s Hmong live in the Central Valley. Among adults in California, 66 percent of Hmong and 38 percent of Tongans have less than a high school degree, compared with 23 percent across the state.

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Candice Shikai, a UCLA student and director of the Asian Pacific Coalition who initiated the “Count Me In” campaign, was encouraged by UC’s data collection changes.

“The prevalent model minority myth can make many disadvantaged members of our community invisible to policymakers. Collecting data on more Asian American and Pacific Islander groups will result in a more accurate picture of how students are doing,” Shikai said.

Ethnic data are not considered in UC’s admissions process, but can have a variety of other uses, such as evaluating graduation and retention rates. Next year’s application will include separate categories for the following Asian American groups: Chinese (except Taiwanese), Taiwanese, Asian Indian, Pakistani, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, Hmong, Thai, Cambodian, Laotian, Bangladeshi, Indonesian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan and Other Asian.

Pacific Islander categories will include Native Hawaiian, Guamanian/Chamorro, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian and Other Pacific Islander. UC will also begin reporting Pacific Islanders separate from Asian Americans. Traditionally these groups were combined in summary statistics. This change is consistent with new reporting guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.

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A study last year by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center found that among adults age 25 and older, 15 percent of Pacific Islanders had a bachelor’s degree or higher, which was comparable to the rate for African Americans (17 percent) and much lower than the rate for whites (30 percent) and Asian Americans (49 percent). The population of California includes nearly as many Pacific Islanders as Hawaii’s.

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