Go back

Number of minority students enrolling in college grows, but progress still needed, says report

October 14, 2003

The number of minority students enrolled in college has more than doubled since 1980, according to an annual report released on Wednesday by the American Council on Education.

In 2000, 4.3 million African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and American Indian students attended college, up from just under 2 million in 1980.
October 14, 2003

The number of minority students enrolled in college has more than doubled since 1980, according to an annual report released on Wednesday by the American Council on Education.

In 2000, 4.3 million African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and American Indian students attended college, up from just under 2 million in 1980.

But "there is significant progress yet to be made" in achieving educational parity among all races, according to William B. Harvey, the author of the report and the director of the council's office of minorities in higher education, who was quoted in the Oct. 10 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

In 1980, there was relatively little difference among the proportions of white, African-American, and Hispanic students attending college; 31.8 percent of white high-school graduates age 18 to 24 were enrolled in college, compared with 29.8 percent of Hispanics and 27.6 percent of African-Americans.

By 2000, the proportion of white students attending college had grown to 44.2 percent, but African-American and Hispanic students' participation rates lagged behind, at 39.4 percent and 36.5 percent, respectively.

The proportion of African-American students attending college was unchanged from the previous year. The figure for Hispanic students was up from just under 32 percent in 1999.

Harvey attributed increases in college enrollment among minority groups mainly to demographic changesspecifically, growing populations of minority youthsbut also to efforts by colleges and universities to reach out to minority students.

Persistent race-based differences in participation rates, he said, may be tied to socioeconomic gaps between white and minority communities.

The gender gap for African-American students is the greatest among the three major minority groups, according to the report, and poor enrollment rates among African-American males is particularly troublesome. African-American women outnumbered their male counterparts nearly two to one in 2000.

Other facts from the report: One in five African-Americans who received a bachelor's degree in the 2000-1 academic year attended a historically black college or university.

The six-year graduation rates for athletes in the NCAA's Division I, its top competitive level, increased four percentage points from 1991 to 2001.

The college enrollment of American Indians jumped 80 percent from 1980 to 2000.

Nearly 2.3 million minority students attended four-year colleges in 2000, compared with roughly 2.1 million enrolled in two-year institutions that same year.

The council gathered data for the report from the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Debbie Denton