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Report: Too Few Students of Color at Top U.S., Arkansas Colleges

A new study says African-American and Latino students are significantly under represented in the country’s top public research universities. (Kali9/iStockphoto)
A new study says African-American and Latino students are significantly under represented in the country’s top public research universities. (Kali9/iStockphoto)
October 17, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Significant numbers of African-American and Latino students are being excluded from America's top public research universities, according to a new report.

The study from the progressive research and advocacy group Center for American Progress says in many states, including Arkansas, doors are often closed to minority students, forcing them to attend lower-tier four-year schools or community colleges, where opportunities for attainment might be limited.

The study’s author, Elizabeth Baylor, says cost is only one of several barriers these students face.

"There are significant numbers of black and Latino students who are well prepared for college,” she points out. “Sometimes it's a choice on their part, because of economics or family issues. And other times, they might not know that this is an option that is available to them."

Baylor says top schools often fall short in recruiting qualified minority students.

The study found nationally, only 9 percent of all African-American and 12 percent of Latino college students are attending top-tier schools.

Baylor says that excludes almost 200,000 of these students.

Arkansas colleges ranked 47th compared to schools in other states for enrolling black students, with only 5 percent attending top colleges.

Baylor says most of the larger states, including Texas, New York and California, also rank poorly in the study, and the problem remains widespread.

"There are 40 states that have what's called a very high-research university,” she points out. “In 39 of the 40 states, African-Americans are less likely to attend, and Latino students are less likely to attend these colleges in 26 states."

Baylor points out that, conversely, black and Latino students are enrolled in larger numbers at less selective public four-year colleges and community colleges, compared with students who are white or Asian.

"We talk a lot about college attainment, which is the share of people from a given community who have earned college degrees,” she states. “One of the things that I think is really important is making sure that more Latino and black students fill this college pipeline will translate into higher levels of attainment."

The study used 2014 data comparing enrollment at top-tier, lower-tier and community colleges for six groups of students: whites, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, American Indians and Pacific Islanders.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR