Home > news > world > Harvard admissions data may help school fight bias lawsuit

Manhattan: Early-admissions numbers Harvard released Thursday night could help in its battle with a group suing the college for discriminating against Asian-Americans. The nation’s oldest and wealthiest college announced that about 26 percent of those admitted by “early action" for the class of 2023 are Asian-American, up from 24 percent last year. The year before, it was about 22 percent. Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons cited an increase in the number of Asian-American applicants as the likely reason for the steady climb, according to the Harvard Crimson, the school’s undergraduate newspaper.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, which seeks to make Harvard abandon race altogether as a factor in admissions, claims the college engages in a discriminatory game of “racial balancing," and that if the school relied solely on academics, Asian-Americans would make up at least 40 percent of its student body. Asian-Americans account for about 5.6 percent of the U.S. population.

Harvard argues that race is just one factor in its calculus, an approach allowed by the Supreme Court, and that without it the school couldn’t provide the educational benefit of a diverse student body, a goal the high court has acknowledged as legitimate. The court is the likely destination for the hotly contested case, currently before U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs in Boston.

Among other notable changes reflected in the acceptance emails Harvard sent out Thursday night, African-American students make up 12 percent of the early-action group, down from 14 percent last year; Latin-Americans, 10.1 percent, up slightly from 9.9 percent; international students, 11 percent, up from 8 percent.

Women make up 51 percent of the students, up from 47 percent last year. Nearly 53 percent of those in the group who say they want to concentrate on the physical sciences are women, up sharply from 33 percent last year, Harvard said. For computer science it’s 43 percent, up from 29 percent.

The odds of admission were long for everybody, with 6,958 applicants vying for 935 seats. That 13.4 percent acceptance rate was the lowest since Harvard reinstated early action seven years ago, according to the Crimson. For the full class of 2022, Harvard got a record 42,749 applicants and admitted just under 2,000 of them.

The early-action emails went out at 7 p.m., according to Harvard spokeswoman Rachael Dane. Applicants in the regular pool will get their emails in late March.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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