Urban Institute Report Finds Persisting Underrepresentation of Blacks at Selective Colleges

A new report from the Center on Education Data and Policy of the Urban Institute finds that while the U.S. population is becoming more educated, large gaps in postsecondary attainment based on race or ethnicity remain, particularly at more selective colleges and universities.

Researchers at the Urban Institute defined a “market” for each college based on the distance most students are willing to travel to attend different types of institutions. Then, they compared the racial and ethnic composition of the college with that of the college’s market. The measure of college representativeness is the difference in a racial or ethnic group’s share of college enrollment from that group’s share of the college market population.

Among the key finding in the report are:

* Black representation at nonselective and selective colleges is representative of schools’ pool of potential students, but Black students have been, and continue to be, severely underrepresented at more selective colleges.

* Black representation at public and private universities is nearly identical, meaning that public institutions do no better than their private counterparts at serving their communities.

* Black students are also overrepresented at for-profit schools by nearly 15 percentage points.

* Though overrepresentation of White students at more selective public universities has been decreasing since 2009, White students still tend to be overrepresented at more selective colleges.

The authors conclude that “our results indicate that a range of factors beyond local demographic composition affect a college’s student body composition. Admissions and tuition policies, state appropriations for higher education, beliefs about the value of college, and local labor market demand all play a role. To better understand the principal drivers of these gaps in representation, researchers, administrators, and policymakers need to better understand how structural racism and systemic barriers manifest in college admissions policies.”

The full report, Racial and Ethnic Representation in Postsecondary Education, may be downloaded by clicking here.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Higher Education Gifts or Grants of Interest to African Americans

Here is this week’s news of grants or gifts to historically Black colleges and universities or for programs of particular interest to African Americans in higher education.

Elizabeth City State University Establishes Transfer Agreements With a Local Community College

Through three recently signed agreements, students at the College of the Albemarle now have the opportunity for a seamless transfer to Elizabeth City State University upon completion of their associate's degree.

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Reports on Demographic Disparities Within American Public Workforce

The report found that Black workers in overrepresented occupations make about $20,000 to $30,000 less than the compensation of White workers in overrepresented fields. African Americans were also found to be more likely than White Americans to work in a lower-wage, segregated occupations.

Christon Arthur Named First Black President of La Sierra University in California

Upon assuming his new role on July 1, Dr. Arthur will become the first Black president of La Sierra University. He has served as provost of Andrews University in Michigan for the past eight years.

Featured Jobs