August 28, 2023
Accrediting agencies can enhance campus diversity following the overturn of race-conscious admissions by focusing on admissions requirements, according to a brief from New America, a left-leaning think tank.
They can influence colleges to move to test-optional or test-blind admissions, the brief states. Research suggests going test-optional modestly increases enrollment of students from underrepresented racial groups.
Accreditors can also steer admissions policies away from requiring applicants to take advanced-level or college-ready courses, which not all K-12 schools have resources to provide.
Colleges have long grappled with how to create and maintain diverse student bodies — a goal likely made more difficult with the U.S. Supreme Court decision against race-conscious admissions in June. The Biden administration has released guidelines for colleges, but New America says accreditors can also help.
“Accreditors are in the perfect position as guardians of federal financial aid to promote diversity on college campuses around the country,” the brief said.
In addition to admissions, accreditation standards can also help diversify faculty and student supports that colleges offer.
One requirement could be giving underrepresented students access to culturally-specific programs and resources, New America said. And accreditors could pressure colleges to hire diverse faculty members, to students’ benefit.