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Equity Issues in Higher Education
In the modern present day higher education has particularly been diversified and it has progressively grown in the United States and many other countries around the world. The situation in most universities especially in terms of issues of equity and equality has been displayed into the spotlight nationally and also internationally. The issue of equity and equality especially in higher education has been particularly ideal in several contexts and even the education founding fathers of ancient times acknowledged the same notion, however it is very unfortunate that in higher education equity and equality practice has been considered to be very ineffective. The issue off equity and equality is a very challenging issue to sustain in higher education. Most strategies that have been implemented to attempt to address these particular issues have essentially failed. These issues are certainly problematic due to the fact that equality and equity is far more complicated and complex with several elements specifically at play in this situation.
Race, social class, ethnicity and also gender are some of the issues that limit the advance in equality and equity in higher education system (Metcalf, 2004). Many higher education institutions encounter challenges with regards of promoting equity and equality and these institutions will continue to face challenges unless something is done about it. To make sure that equity and equality in higher education is sustained, maintained and optimally achieved, higher education school systems requires effective approaches and remedies (Metcalf, 2004).
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The major challenge in the high education institutions particularly in the twenty first century is race as it is still evident that color still divides many people. In most recent years the public policy scenario has been encountering attacks especially on affirmative action in relation issues of race in higher education. From the point of view of Americans who still have beliefs that the discrimination legacy has disappeared and that affirmative action now offers disadvantages for minority communities while on the other hand from the view point of other people who regularly encounter continuous discrimination affirmative action is particularly required to protect the racially discriminated people and to ensure fair treatment for them. Moreover for people of all backgrounds, their perspective is that in a society that evidently dependent on education and knowledge opportunity allocation is a great source of concern and anxiety (“Russell Group universities ‘unfairly rejecting ethnic minority students’”, 2017).
In the early years most Latinos, African Americans and Native American students were particularly educated in completely isolate schools that were lowly funded and people from these communities were also excluded completely from institutions of higher education while on the other hand schools for whites were highly funded. Racial discrimination issues were also evident with regards to provision of key national tests such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test popularly known as SAT where the test scores particularly for white students and African American students. Experiences for students from the minorities including the African American, Native American and Latinos have continued to be significantly unequal and separate. Most minority students still get enrolled in minority universities and colleges which are specifically located in particularly central cities. These universities and colleges which serve students of the minority particularly the African American have essentially limited resources for instance less experienced and qualified teachers; low quality computers, curriculum and laboratories, while on the other hand those serving white students have adequate resources (“Black Students Make Up 5 Percent of All 2017 First-Year Admits at the University of California”, 2017).
According to a 2016 survey by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, there was a significant increase in the number of African American students’ admissions specifically to the University of California in the 9 campuses from an approximated 2,653 in the year 2015 to 3,464 with these students accounting for an estimated five percent of total admissions at the university (“Black Students Make Up 5 Percent of All 2017 First-Year Admits at the University of California”, 2017). This year according to the same report, there is no change in terms of admission numbers for these minorities. However in some campuses for instance the Berkeley campus the number has essentially dropped to 375 from 401, in the Los Angeles campus the admission has dropped to 571 from 624 and finally in the Riverside campus of the University of California the admission number has also dropped to 1,112 from 1,316 (“Black Students Make Up 5 Percent of All 2017 First-Year Admits at the University of California”, 2017).
In the United States prestigious and well recognized universities and colleges have low enrollment and admission numbers especially for the African American and these numbers have particularly dropped in the several past years. According to the data provided by the United States Department of Education the drop has been highly witnessed in universities and several private colleges such as University of Michigan and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) among other institutions. On the other hand, institutions of higher education comprising of baccalaureate programs, colleges providing associate degrees and also specialty schools have been reported to have an increased African American representation. This specific statistics have resulted into debates on the issue of race and equity issues in higher education institutions which have caused emerging discontent (Darling-Hammond, 2017).
Lower admission numbers for the African American students in universities and colleges is not the only issue indicating lack of equity and equality in higher education institutions, lower rates of graduation among these students is also prevalent. Simply enrolling more Hispanic minorities and African American students to higher education institutions does necessary mean that equity and equality will be practiced neither will it make these students feel included and therefore proper remedies are required to ensure equity and equality. Initiation of extra academic study of ethnicity and race in order to ensure that experiences of the minorities are improved is very essential minority students. Racially discriminated students should also be protected from the unfortunate and uncomfortable experiences that hinder them from their education. Higher education institutions should also investigate how the programs and policies of the institutions encourage racial discrimination and find better policies to ensure equality for all students in universities and colleges. Admission and enrollment processes should be revised because the issue of race is a determinant factor in enrollments in most universities and colleges, this will offer several options for these students to select from, and for instance African American students can register for black studies with a subsidiary in multicultural studies. When enrolling the African American and the minorities it is also important to consider a wider information range and not just attained grades to particularly judge the suitability of the applicant (“The Determinants of Gender Inequality in Higher Education | Department of Sociology | University of Washington”, 2017).
Enrollment figures in almost all universities and colleges indicate that all students despite their age, whether full time or part time. However, generally the number of enrollment for both females and males in higher education institution programs has been on the rise for many years now. In the higher education field, gender inequality has been considered to be particularly visible. According to the Digest of Education Statistics of 2010, the ratio for both the male and female in higher education institutions particularly offers a food for thought in terms of gender equality and equity in these institutions. The ratio is considered to be higher especially for the female and therefore the total statistics indicate that the female students have outnumbered the male students and this statistics have progressively escalated. This statistics has been considered to be higher specifically in public universities initially however private universities have seen the enrollment numbers for female surpass that for male. Further statistics according to the report also indicate that out of five stated in the southeastern United States three states have indicated that the number of enrollment especially for female students has surpassed that of male students in these states (“Forbes Welcome”, 2017).
Since the female students achieved equality with their counterpart male students in higher education graduation rates several years ago, they have managed to outperform the male students ever since. In other words most scholars assert that female students have acquired a particularly higher bachelor’s degree percentage as compared to their counterpart male students in higher education institutions. According to the American Association of University Women, out of 10 universities 9 of them reported no rape cases in campuses in the year 2015. Data provided on university sexual violence widely varies with approximately 19percent of female students reportedly assaulted sexually. Analysis of the crime data in campuses according to the United States Department of Education showed that Universities of California showed 17 rape cases, the Irvine campus reported 19 cases and the Berkeley campus reported 18 rape cases (“The Determinants of Gender Inequality in Higher Education | Department of Sociology | University of Washington”, 2017).
In addressing issues of unfair treatment especially for female students in higher education institutions, gender discrimination in these institutions should be banned and funding from the federal government should be provided to aid this particular effort. The Obama administration implemented the enforcement of the Title IX which intended to ban discrimination sexually with regards to unfair treatment in these institutions and in addition to these a lot to ensure this policy is adequately implemented. In the case of enrollment numbers for both genders in higher education institutions policies that address the gender make up in these institutions is very essential. Such include implementing policies that will allow for balancing in terms of academic courses that attract both male and female students so that the enrollment numbers for both male and female students are equal. More programs that will specifically focus on getting more male students into universities and colleges should be established. Proper practices and policies especially in the admission processes should put into consideration both genders without biasness.
In order to remedy gender issues in relation to sexual assault and violence in these institutions, students should be encouraged to specifically act when they notice a dangerous situation taking place as this helps to enhance campus safety. In 2015, several Senators established the Campus Accountability and Safety Act which intended to ensure better institution coordination with the police departments locally in the event of a criminal incident. This Act should be revised to ensure that the local police department and the institution coordinate frequently to ensure secure campuses. Traditional programs that are specifically focused on enhancing knowledge about gender issues in higher education institutions should be revised to ensure that equality for both male and female students is established (Freedman, 2017).
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Social class issues
Today, in the United States, the leading determinant in higher education systems is income and this is because very many students who have qualified for universities and colleges lack the means to enroll simply because the enrollment system eliminates them or due to the fact they cannot afford it. According to the Postsecondary Education Opportunity 11percent of students families of the lower income quartile graduate from the higher education institutions while 79percent of these students that are born into families of the upper income quartile in the United States. In other words 55percent of the awarded bachelor’s degrees represented students from families of the upper income quartile while 9.4percent of students from families of the lower income quartile were awarded bachelor’s degrees. The social class issue has been heavily impacted by the upper and lower income quartile which has brought about inequalities in the higher education institutions.
The major challenge in higher education institutions admissions offices is social class issue as they are particularly discriminated against students of low income. The challenge gets even worse with the particular institution selected for instance in elite institutions such as Havard Law and also Yale most students that are enrolled there are specifically from the top income bracket unlike those students from the lower income bracket. Government subsidized loans for students is one major challenge that lower income students face because they are established to make higher education institutions affordable, however critics assert that the other effects of this is that tuition expenses are also equally increased. Low income university and college students mostly drop out from these institutions at higher rates due to financial and academic challenges and therefore lower graduate rates. Most of these students often work weekly for many hours to pay for their fees during the academic year and therefore work schedules end up reducing the time required for studying and as a result bad grades.
Higher education institutions should be reducing the gap between the poor and the rich, however and most colleges have been accused of maintaining social classes and class divides rather than obscuring them. Several studies have shown that low income students who are high achievers are not particularly selected to some higher education institutions as they mostly end up at regional public universities and community colleges with lower rates. On the other hand rich and high income students are enrolled in flagship public universities and elite private universities. The gap between high income and low income students continues to greatly increase especially with the downturn in the economy recently.
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Some government financial aid programs have been established such as work study however they have been indicated to otherwise rich students rather than poorer students. Private scholarships such as the rotary clubs that have been established unfortunately benefit richer families with college counselors and parents apply for their children. Most students from high income earning families get these private scholarships compared to students from low income earning families. Students with low income have particularly observed that the amount they end up paying after scholarships and grant have rapidly increased as compared to their high income earning student counterparts. A lot needs to be done in order to address this equity issue in terms of social class challenges in order to ensure equal and equitable access to higher education for all American students. In higher education the government needs to make adequate efforts to partner with these institutions to ensure that they generate equal educational opportunities for all students despite their backgrounds.
Since low income and high achieving students do not have access to selective institutions and this is due to not having relevant knowledge to apply, it is essential that these students are provided with primary information because this will significantly raise the number of students with low income backgrounds to make applications to better selective institutions. Federal grants should be offered to low income students so as to reduce the burden for low income students so that they do not have to depend on loans. Development of programs that will address the needs of the low income students through focusing on techniques that will solve financial challenges is very important. For instance at the Brown University students established a program that motivated students to work collectively to support other students with the challenges they are facing. Encouraging students particularly those of low income to have discussions about how distinct social class backgrounds impact on higher education experiences enables these students to acknowledge the fact that participating in successful social academic and psychological transitions to higher education institution life is essential in their own interest.
In conclusion, it is important to acknowledge the fact that a struggle for equity achievement in higher education in America still ensues putting into consideration issues of race, social class and also gender. Several barriers exist with regards to ensuring equity however with efforts made to ensure that equity is significantly practiced in these institutions several approaches and policies are required to ensure all this happens.
- Black Students Make Up 5 Percent of All 2017 First-Year Admits at the University of California. (2017). The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from https://www.jbhe.com/2017/07/black-students-make-up-5-percent-of-all-2017-first-year-admits-at-the-university-of-california/
- Darling-Hammond, L. (2017). Unequal Opportunity: Race and Education. Brookings. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from https://www.brookings.edu/articles/unequal-opportunity-race-and-education/
- Forbes Welcome. (2017). Forbes.com. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ccap/2012/02/16/the-male-female-ratio-in-college/#8755a6dfa52d
- Forbes Welcome. (2017). Forbes.com. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2012/05/02/poor-students-are-the-real-victims-of-college-discrimination/#21bc6ce9610e
- Freedman, J. (2017). Why American Colleges Are Becoming a Force for Inequality. The Atlantic. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/05/why-american-colleges-are-becoming-a-force-for-inequality/275923/
- Metcalf, T. (2004). School Athletics: Problems and Policies. Educational Policies Commission. The School Review, 62(6), 369-371. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/442133
- Russell Group universities ‘unfairly rejecting ethnic minority students’. (2017). Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved 22 July 2017, from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/russell-group-universities-unfairly-rejecting-ethnic-minority-students
- The Determinants of Gender Inequality in Higher Education | Department of Sociology | University of Washington. (2017). Soc.washington.edu. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from https://soc.washington.edu/research/graduate/determinants-gender-inequality-higher-education
- Treating Students of Color Differently. (2017). Newsweek. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from http://www.newsweek.com/race-campus-treating-students-color-differently-407086