The number of black students enrolled in U.S. colleges is at an all-time high, largely because of increasing participation by black women, according to a report released Wednesday by the research arm of the United Negro College Fund.
The report, which compiled various studies of undergraduate and graduate students, is intended to serve as a source of facts for lawmakers from Capitol Hill to city halls as they develop policies that will affect the education of the upcoming work force.
“Nothing is more important in making good public policy than good information,” said Education Secretary Richard Riley. “The biggest value of this book is that it highlights the areas of greatest need.”
Based on the findings, Riley said educators and others should:
Reach out to black males, whose college enrollment and graduation rates lag well behind black females.
Lower the dropout rate of all black freshmen.
Boost the representation of blacks on the faculties of colleges and universities. Blacks made up only 4.9 percent of college faculty in 1992, the report said.
Among college students, blacks made up a historically high 10.1 percent in the fall of 1994, the latest semester included in the report.
Black women were the largest part of that enrollment, representing 6.3 percent of the college students in the United States in contrast to black men, who made up 3.8 percent of the student population.
Black women earned 52,097 bachelor’s degrees in 1994 - a 55.4 percent increase from 1977, the earliest year included in the report.
Black men earned 30,086 bachelor’s degrees in 1994 - a 19.6 percent increase from 1977.
Not all the studies in the report reflected such progress: other studies found that black students are more likely to drop out in their first year of college than white students and underscored the heavy reliance of black students on financial aid because their families’ income is far behind white families’.