Benefits of Affirmative Action in Higher Education

Last Updated: 28 May 2020
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For twenty-five years, positive efforts have been made to qualified women and color of people to equal educational opportunities. As a result, the participation of the underrepresented groups of our society has increased significantly. The past and the present history of discrimination against women and people of color in education have extremely limited the current generation's educational opportunities. Until we can eliminate these inequities, positive measures would remain critical for women and color of people.

Affirmative action programs have made a significant difference to a number of qualified individuals whose talents would not have watched over without such programs. It has improved the heterogeneity and the quality of education in our schools. In education, affirmative action provides the following to make educational opportunities accessible to all Americans:

- Review of other merit factors besides grades and test scores by admission committees

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- Recruit for undergraduate, graduate admissions, and special educational programs

- Provide mentoring, counseling, and other support programs.

Affirmative Action In Education Has Expanded Opportunities For Women And People Of Color But The Need Remains

If we take a closer look, many of the nations finest educational institutions had the doors firmly closed to women and people of color. Although the Civil Right Act and the Education Amendments prohibited racial and ethnic discriminations, educational opportunities for women and people of color are still limited by discrimination and stereotyping. As a result, women and people of color continue to fell behind by many educational measures. For example:

Eliminating Educational Barriers For Women And People Of Color Through Affirmative Action Has Produced Broader Benefits To Society As A Whole

Affirmative action programs have helped to increase the number of women completing law and medical school. The presence of women in justice and health care systems has given consumers more choices. The greater availability of female doctors and lawyers are the direct results of affirmative action programs at medical and law schools.

"Affirmative action programs in medical schools have increased the number of physicians of color. Data suggests these physicians fill an important role in caring for poor people and members of minority groups. Black and Hipic physicians locate their practices in areas with higher proportions of residents from underserved minority groups. In addition, they care for higher proportions of patients of their own race or ethnic groups and patients who are uninsured or are covered by Medicaid".

Source: Komaromy et al., "The Role of Black and Hipic Physicians in Providing Health Care for Undeserved Populations," The New England Journal of Medicine, May 16, 1996, Vol. 332, No. 20, p. 1305.

What Would Happen If Affirmative Action Were Eliminated?

The elimination of affirmative action will have devastating effects and it has already being felt in two of the nation's largest public universities. In 1995, the University of California system's Board of Regents voted to drop affirmative action in admissions beginning with next year's entering class. In Texas, a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit barred public colleges in that state from considering the race of prospective students. The Washington Post (5-19-97) noted that 21 black students have been selected for next fall's class at UCLA's law school-an 80 percent drop from last year and the lowest number of African Americans offered admission since about 1970.

In Texas, nearly 400 fewer black and Hipic students have been offered admission as undergraduates-a 20 percent decline. The Fall '97 entering class at the University of Texas Law School will include no African American students. Based on this data each and every civic in the nation should be alarmed. Not only that but also everyone should oppose to the policies denying entire segments of our society the full range of opportunities that our country has to offer.

Why Admissions Policies Consider More Than Grades and Test Scores

Antagonist of affirmative action is in favor to rank all applicants on the basis of quantitative measures alone. College admissions counselors and committees do understands that merit consists of just more than grades and test scores. Family income and parental academic attainment can also correlate to a student's ability to succeed. So the college counselors and committees understands if they limit the qualifications selection by only grades and test scores that might lead to the exclusion of talented musicians, artists, athletes, and other able individuals. Schools have a legitimate reason to strive for a mixed learning environment for students that will enable them to live in a pluralistic nation and compete in a global marketplace. A practical education encourages students to interact and work with people of diverse backgrounds.

What the Courts Have Said About Affirmative Action in the Education Context

"In Hopwood V. University of Texas School of Law (1996), the U.S. COURT of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the University of Texas's Law School's affirmative action program violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. At issue was an admission's policy that compared 'minority' and 'non-minority' applicants separately. In its decision, the Fifth Circuit said the Supreme Court's ruling in Bakke (that race could be used as one of several factors in admission) was no longer valid. While the Supreme Court allowed the Hopwood ruling to stand, it did not affirm the decisive language of the ruling".

Education is a fundamental virtue in every aspect of social and economic opportunity in the United States of America. More than ever before, educational achievement is connected to the economic security and the advancement for individuals as well as the nation as a whole. Schools carry a strong responsibility of preparing the future leaders of our country to effectively live and lead in a diverse society. America's competitiveness lies in its ability to support the innovative talents of its people. In an era where educated nation is a stronger nation economically and otherwise. As we approach the 21st Century, our commitment as a moral citizen to these programs is more vital than ever.

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Benefits of Affirmative Action in Higher Education. (2018, Jun 13). Retrieved from

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