Wednesday, October 31, 2012

will UTSA be just for rich kids?

Hannah Carney's recent article in The Texas Observer addresses the provocative question: are Texas' public universities just for rich kids? Although data pertinent to this issue are limited, she cites evidence which suggests that this may be the case for at least some public universities in the state. For example, median parent income of UT Austin students is almost twice that for households statewide. According to Carney, "The numbers expose a higher education system that’s suffering from profound economic inequality. The more “elite” the university, the less representative it tends to be of the state’s economic diversity." In addition to difficulties with financing an education, she goes on to connect the issue to enrollment policies, implying that affirmative action for racial and ethnic minority students may be a bit misdirected. A fairer approach, she contends, would have admission at least partially hinged on students' class backgrounds. In all, Carney's analysis is consistent with social reproduction explanations of inequality which hold that schooling in capitalist societies primarily serves to maintain privilege among the haves, while neglecting the interests of those toward the bottom of the class structure.

What about UTSA? It may not be your impression that our students largely come from affluent homes, but what of social class composition down the line? Will continued growth lessen diversity by tightening admission requirements and, particularly what of Tier 1? If realized, will it mean a student body that replicates UT Austin's?

Note: no analysis for UTSA appears in Carney's article, but at its end she does link data for entering students. Although obviously dated (collected in 2004), what does it suggest about economic diversity among our students?

1 comment:

  1. It seem's like all universities start off as UTSA did, being a university for everyone, but eventually they all end up like UT Austin's. All the school's are looking out for being able to get the most money for their own and it's the students that are hurt by the raise in tuitions to the point where only the rich kids can still afford to attend.