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Harvard admits record number of Asian Americans

By MINLU ZHANG in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-04-06 10:54

Harvard University has admitted a record number of Asian American students to its Class of 2027 as it faces allegations of bias against Asian students in its admissions process.

Of 56,937 individuals who applied, the Ivy League university accepted 1,942 students, its second-lowest acceptance rate ever.

Among the admitted applicants, 29.9 percent are Asian American, a 2.1 percent increase from last year's 27.8 percent, according to a breakdown of the incoming class released by Harvard last week. That is the largest-ever acceptance rate for Asian Americans.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William Fitzsimmons said that the rise in the number of Asian American students wasn't unexpected. "It's been part of a long-term trend," he told The Harvard Crimson. "The percentages have been going up steadily. It's not a surprise."

White students were the largest racial group admitted at 40.8 percent. Women account for 53.6 percent of all those accepted.

For the second year in a row, admission rates of black and Hispanic students decreased, representing 15.3 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively. Native Hawaiian and Native American admissions were also down from last year, at 0.5 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Julie Park, an associate professor at the University of Maryland who studies racial equity in higher education, told NBC News that one potential explanation for this could be that more Asian American students who are children of Harvard graduates, known as legacy admissions, may have been accepted.

Another reason could be the overall increase in the number of Asian American young adults and high school graduates in the United States, she said.

"Race-conscious admissions can be very dynamic and institution-specific," she said. "Under race-conscious admissions, Harvard has a very sizable Asian-American class. It's just a natural byproduct that you're just going to numerically have at Harvard, unless they step away from legacy admissions, which I actually think they should."

The latest Harvard admission numbers were released as the US Supreme Court is hearing arguments that alleges the Ivy League school's admission policies discriminate against Asian and white students.

Harvard University was sued in 2014 by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a group opposed to affirmative action, which alleged that the college's race-conscious admissions use racial quotas to deny admission to high-scoring Asian Americans.

After two lower courts ruled in favor of the university, SFFA took the case to the Supreme Court, which heard the suits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the same day in October 2022.

The plaintiff, SFFA, argues that Harvard's admissions officers, by endorsing the "model minority" stereotype, unfairly evaluate Asian applicants with higher standards and discriminate against them in the subjective areas of the application process.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide in June, which could establish a precedent for affirmative action policies in higher education institutions throughout the US.

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