Texas Undergrad Minority Enrollment Rebounds

University Testing

Texas’ “Top 10%” rule, which waives consideration of college admissions test scores for applicants with grades in the top decile of their high school classes (see Examiner, Summer 1997), has helped restore minority admissions at the state’s flagship campus to levels in effect before a court-ordered ban on affirmative action.


This fall, African-American and Latino first year enrollment at the University of Texas (UT) Austin reached the highest level since the 1996 Hopwood decision barred any consideration of race in the admissions process. Acceptances of underserved minority group members had declined sharply in 1997 but rebounded somewhat in 1998, the first year of the “Top 10%” policy (see Examiner, Summer 1998). In 1999, the number of African-Americans and Hispanics accepting admissions offers slightly exceeded the 1996 figures. Because the overall size of entering classes has grown, the percentage of students from these groups is essentially unchanged from the pre-Hopwood level.


UT officials praised the admissions reform law. “The top 10% bill has helped create the good results we are seeing in the diversity of our freshman class,” said Associate Vice President and Director of Admissions Bruce Walker.


At the graduate and professional school level, where no similar policy has been implemented to reduce the impact of test scores, minority enrollments remain lower than before the Hopwood ruling. Only nine African American and 43 Latino first year students arrived at the Austin law campus this fall. In 1996, pre-Hopwood, the comparable figures were 29 and 46.


Other campuses in the UT system report similar results: significant increases in diversity at the undergraduate level due to the “Top 10%” rule, but little progress at their graduate and professional schools. Overall, nearly 10,000 students who graduated in the top 10% of their classes enrolled at UT campuses. Minority enrollment at Texas public universities and community colleges is now at the highest level in history.