- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 26, 2002

College enrollment for minorities has jumped 48 percent since 1990, while graduation rates and employment opportunities in higher education continue to trail those of white students, a new study conducted by the American Council on Education finds.
The number of Hispanic students enrolled in higher education grew by 68 percent over the last decade. The number of Asian-American students rose by 59 percent and the number of American Indian students by 41 percent.
Minority students make up 29 percent of college freshmen, but because of higher dropout rates earned just 21 percent of the bachelor's degrees awarded in 2000, according to the study.
Minorities hold 14 percent of full-time college faculty jobs, although that has increased from 12 percent in 1990, ACE found.
"The study does reveal that there are persisting gaps and disparities in educational access, opportunity and attainment between minorities and their white counterparts, even though college participation and graduation rates have been increasing," said Michael Baer, senior vice president of ACE, which represents 1,800 colleges and universities nationwide. The council has conducted a similar study for the last 19 years.
"The trend has been that the gap is closing, but not as fast as one would like to see in a society that promotes equity," Mr. Baer said. "We need to speed things up."
The report, "Minorities in Higher Education, 2001-2002," found:
Minorities made up 33 percent of undergraduates at two-year colleges in 2000, 24 percent in four-year colleges and 19 percent in graduate schools.
Minorities earned 28 percent of two-year associate's degrees that year, 22 percent of four-year bachelor's degrees, 17 percent of master's degrees, and 11 percent of doctoral degrees.
Minorities made up 15 percent of full-time administrators and 14 percent of faculty in 1999, compared with the 12 percent they held in 1990. They currently make up 12 percent of the presidents, chancellors and other chief executive officers of colleges and universities.
The study was conducted using statistics compiled by the Department of Education.
Mr. Baer said the gaps between enrollment, graduation rates and employment opportunity point to the need for increased financial aid and to a lack of qualified faculty and advanced-placement courses in high schools.
Also, students who come from low-income households are unable to balance studies with part-time or full-time work, said Kai Mumpfield, administrative vice president for the Black Student Union at Auburn University.
"A lot of our students can't stay in school," Miss Mumpfield said. "If they had a choice, they would. But, financially, they can't afford to stay here. It comes down to a choice between going to work or going to school."
Mr. Baer said the federal government needs to provide greater financial aid to students who come from low-income households, to enable them to obtain higher education.
"Those individuals who graduate from college are better equipped to live a better life, in a better environment, than those who only graduate from high school," he said. "That's the message we need to send to these students."

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