US releases new recommendations for colleges to promote diversity

The US Department of Education has released a new report that calls on states and higher education leaders to prioritise efforts that advance diversity on college campuses.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Department said the report, titled "Strategies for Increasing Diversity and Opportunity in Higher Education", is part of the Biden-Harris administration's "ongoing commitment to advance diversity and opportunity in higher education".

The report outlines evidence-based strategies and practices in the areas of outreach, admissions, financial aid, and college completion, it added.

US colleges
File Photo: LOS ANGELES, Sept. 11, 2015 (Xinhua) -- People sit amongst 3,000 US flags erected to honor the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, at the campus of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, Sept. 10, 2015. (Xinhua/Zhao Hanrong/IANS) (lrz) IANS

"One of the cruelest ironies in America's current higher education system is that our most inclusive and accessible institutions have lacked adequate resources to invest in student success, while highly selective institutions with vast resources to invest in students and propel them to graduation day admit overwhelmingly affluent applicants with a myriad of advantages," Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona was quoted as saying in the statement.

"This report reflects President Biden and Vice President Harris' unyielding commitment to equal opportunity and provides colleges and universities with a roadmap for advancing student body diversity.

"This moment demands leadership, innovation, and collaboration from leaders at every level to break down barriers for underserved students and reimagine pathways into higher education.

"Our future is brighter when we prepare students of all backgrounds to lead our multiracial democracy together," he added.

Stanford University
Stanford University Wikimedia Commons

The report also suggests that colleges and universities should still consider how race has impacted an applicant's life in addition to investing in out reach programs focused on recruiting diverse and lower-income students and making attendance affordable through need-based financial assistance, CNN reported.

The Department has ramped up its efforts to push policies that promote diversity after the Supreme Court gutted affirmative action in June, which has benefited Black and Latino students in higher education, with President Joe Biden calling on institutions to not abandon the pursuit of diversity.

The new report also argued that ending affirmative action will have devastating impacts on the enrollment of students of colour, pointing to nine states that had banned the practice ahead of the ruling.

California and Michigan have moved to adopt race-neutral admissions policies in 1996 and 2006, respectively, Black student enrollment dropped at flagship schools such as the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley and UCLA.

(With inputs from IANS)