NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

America's Universities Still Use Racial Preferences

February 22, 2001

According to most public opinion polls, Americans reject the use of racial preferences to achieve diversity in the nation's colleges and universities. But a new study from the Center for Equal Opportunity finds that racial preferences run wide and deep throughout public higher education.

Researchers Robert Lerner and Althea Nagia conclude that "racial preferences play a far more important role in admissions than has been previously acknowledged."

  • At the University of California, Berkeley, for example, median SAT scores varied by more than 300 points between successful white and black applicants -- and grade point averages for the two groups differed by more than half a point on a four point scale.
  • The study of 47 public colleges and universities found most give preferences to black or Hispanic students over whites or Asians.
  • Looking at the odds of admission of students at 23 schools based on their race, black applicants were significantly favored at such schools as North Carolina State, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Virginia.

However, attrition rates among black and Hispanic students admitted through affirmative action programs are higher -- sometimes two to three times higher -- than for other students. This is often because these minorities are poorly prepared for higher education while they attended public schools earlier.

It is being suggested that the Bush administration insist that schools which receive federal aid create new pre-admissions programs aimed at preparing disadvantaged students to take admissions tests and improve their scores.

Source: Linda Chavez, (Center for Equal Opportunity), "Colleges and Quotas," Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2001.


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