Legacy admissions under fire following affirmative action ban | This Week in Admissions News

07/07/20236 minute read
Legacy admissions under fire following affirmative action ban | This Week in Admissions News

The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students with top university ambitions, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. The past week saw a big upset in the US when the Supreme Court banned affirmative action for college admissions. President Biden’s loan forgiveness plan was also axed. Following that, this week legacy admissions are now under fire. Check back next week to see what’s new and noteworthy in university admissions!


Legacy admissions under fire following affirmative action ban

With affirmative action off the table, colleges face mounting pressure to end other admission practices that disproportionately benefit white and wealthy students, AP News has reported. Chief among those are legacy preferences, the practice of giving an admission boost to the children of alumni. Now, three civil rights groups have filed a complaint with the U.S. The Department of Education claiming that Harvard's preferences for "legacy" applicants violates a federal law banning race discrimination for programs that receive federal funds, as virtually all U.S. colleges and universities do, Reuters has reported.

Harvard, along with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, was at the center of the affirmative action debate that the Supreme Court struck down last week. Now, according to this new complaint, nearly 70% of Harvard applicants with family ties to donors or alumni are white and are about six times more likely to be admitted than other applicants. About 28% of Harvard's class of 2019 were legacies, the groups said in the complaint. That means fewer admissions slots were available for non-white applicants who are far less likely to have family ties to the school, they said.

The groups are asking the Department of Education to investigate Harvard's admission practices and order the school to abandon legacy preferences if it wants to continue receiving federal funding. Michael Kippins, one of the lawyers who filed the complaint, said in an email that Lawyers for Civil Rights has not ruled out filing a lawsuit against Harvard in the future.

Following on the heels of this complaint, a bill in Massachusetts seeks to tax rich colleges that favor families of alumni and donors in admissions policies — namely Harvard University — and give the money to poorer community colleges, Fortune has reported. The legislation targets Harvard, Williams College and a half-dozen other schools that use preferences for students whose parents attended the college, called legacies, and meet a threshold of current endowment value per student. Cambridge-based Harvard, the richest US college with a $50.1 billion endowment, would be assessed an estimated $103 million a year, the largest fee, according to sponsors.

Even President Joe Biden asked the Education Department to examine legacy preferences and other practices that “expand privilege instead of opportunity.” A small but notable group of colleges have dropped the practice in recent years, including Johns Hopkins University and Amherst College, but it continues at many others, including Harvard and other Ivy League schools. Besides legacy admissions, activists are also taking aim at other policies seen as barriers for underrepresented students, including donor preferences and standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. Hundreds of colleges made entrance exams optional during the pandemic, and there’s a growing push to make the change permanent.

Along with affirmative action, the Supreme Court also struck down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. The 6-3 decision from the court dealt a blow to an estimated 40 million borrowers who had hoped the $430bn plan would allow the 2003 Heroes Act to help curb the ongoing costs of their education, the Guardian reported. Biden promised to now turn to the Higher Education Act of 1965 to restore student debt relief. He also plans to enact a 12-month repayment program that would help people with student debt avoid defaulting on their loans if they couldn’t pay and avoid years of bad credit ratings.

Other top stories in admissions news this week:

  1. This year, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will deliver Oxford's own undergraduate admissions tests for the first time. The TSA and BMAT will continue to be administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) for one final year in 2023. Arrangements for Law applicants required to take the LNAT remain unchanged.

All other tests used in Oxford undergraduate admissions will require applicants' schools and colleges to follow a new process to apply for authorisation to become TCS test centres. Only authorised test centres will be able to register Oxford applicants and administer these admissions tests on the test days. Schools and colleges are strongly advised to apply for authorisation as soon as possible so they are ready to begin registering their Oxford applicants as soon as the registration window opens on 1 September.

Oxford's own admissions tests are:

  • CAT (Classics Admissions Test)
  • ELAT (English Literature Admissions Test)
  • GAT (Geography Admissions Test) - new this year
  • HAT (History Admissions Test)
  • MAT (Mathematics Admissions Test)
  • MLAT (Modern Languages Admissions Test)
  • PAT (Physics Admissions Test for Physics, Engineering and Materials Science)
  • Philosophy test (for Philosophy and Theology only).

The registration deadline for Oxford's own admissions tests is 29 September and the individual test dates are as follows:

  • 19 October: CAT, ELAT, GAT and MAT
  • 20 October: HAT, MLAT, PAT and Philosophy Test
  1. Wellesley College awarded the largest amount of financial aid per international student on the list, about $78,000, US News has reported. During the 2022-2023 academic year, 82 international students received aid from the private liberal arts school in Massachusetts. These 15 colleges and universities are all private, with tuition and fees ranging from about $57,000 to nearly $65,000. Among public schools, the University of Vermont – which charged almost $44,000 for out-of-state students – awarded the most aid, about $34,000, with funds given out to 117 international students during the 2022-2023 academic year.
  2. U.S. News recently ranked the top B-schools with the highest ROI. MBA grads from these schools have at least a 210% average return on their investment and many of these grads earn six-figure salaries on average within three months of graduation. The Zicklin School of Business at CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College saw the highest return on investment with a salary-to-debt ratio of 7.3-to-1.0. The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University had the second highest return on investment for MBA grads with a salary-to-debt ratio of 7.2-to-1.0.
  3. Yahoo Finance has published a list of the most profitable universities and Harvard has topped the list. For the list of the most profitable universities in the world, the list scoured through numerous college statistics to find the largest university endowments in the world. Following this, they compiled a list of the universities that enjoy such endowments across the globe. Keep in mind, the list is predominantly filled with institutions within the United States as almost all of the richest colleges in the world are based within the US. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton and MIT rounded out the top 5 list.
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