Achieving Better Diversity. Reforming Affirmative Action in Higher Education

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The Century Foundation

The debate over affirmative action policies in higher education—which has spanned nearly five decades— has shifted in recent years. Today, the discussion is not so much about whether having racially and ethnically diverse college campuses is desirable, but rather about how best to achieve that worthy objective.This report proceeds in four parts. Part I explains why racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inclusion are essential goals for selective colleges and universities. Part II outlines why current practices—which heavily consider race and mostly ignore socioeconomic disadvantage—are legally vulnerable. Part III examines in detail the empirical evidence on the pivotal question in the Fisher II case: Do race-neutral strategies for producing diversity work? Part IV looks to what’s next for affirmative action—outlining innovative new paths to diversity and the exciting new political environment that could flow from updated forms of affirmative action.

Higher education system, institutions of higher education, affirmative action programs, college admission, University of Texas, discrimination in higher education