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An analysis of selective versus open-access institutions found that diversity gains made at the most selective U.S. colleges and universities were “marginal” even with race-conscious admissions practices, according to a new report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce’s (CEW).

The report evaluated a decade of demographic change at selective and less competitive open-access institutions from 2009 to 2019, when race could be explicitly considered in the college admissions process—and prior to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year ending this practice.

The report demonstrates that diversity gains at the most selective colleges and universities “were incremental at best”, equity gaps by race/ethnicity persist at these institutions and historically underrepresented students continue to disproportionately enroll at open-access institutions.

“A small number of selective colleges are launchpads to positions of influence, but these institutions remain highly segregated by race/ethnicity and class,” CEW Director and lead author Jeff Strohl said in a press release about the report. “Open-access institutions educate the vast majority of college students but, unfortunately, have the fewest resources and the lowest success rates. This chasm of inequity undermines the goal of the American postsecondary system to serve as an engine of opportunity for those who need it most.”

The report says selective institutions must “overhaul their admission policies to achieve equitable enrollment in a post–affirmative action society.”

Among the findings in the report:

Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, and American Indian/Alaska Native students collectively composed 37 percent of the college-aged population but just 21 percent of selective college enrollments in 2019, according to the report.

While Hispanic/Latino enrollment in selective colleges increased by about 50,000 students, almost doubling their enrollment from 2009 to 2019, Black/African American enrollment increased by just 5,000 at selective universities, and American Indian/Alaska Native student enrollment declined over that period.

White and Asian American/Pacific Islander students accounted for 60 percent of the college-aged population but 73 percent of enrollments at selective institutions in 2019. The white college-aged population decreased by 12 percent between 2009 and 2019, but their enrollment at selective colleges remained stable.

The CEW analysis also found disparities by socioeconomic status. For instance, overall enrollments of Pell Grant recipients have steadily declined since their peak in 2009 due to enrollment declines at open-access institutions. While selective colleges experienced small increases in enrollment of students with Pell Grants, this did not offset the overall declines. In 2019, less than one in four students were Pell Grant recipients at the most selective colleges, according to the report.

“Enrollment disparities between selective and open-access institutions matter because outcomes matter,” Emma Nyhof, report co-author and policy analyst at CEW, said in the release. “At the median, selective institutions spend more than twice as much on student services and academic support per student and have more full-time faculty per student than open-access colleges. These factors contribute to higher graduation rates and better opportunities for their graduates.”

The report noted that graduation rates at selective colleges and universities are more than double those at open-access institutions, 78 percent compared to 37 percent. Similarly, graduation disparities between demographic groups are smaller at selective colleges across the board.

“Broadening equitable access to the most selective colleges and universities is a vitally important goal moving forward,” Catherine Morris, report co-author and senior writer/editor at CEW, said in the release.