Editorial On Diversity in Higher Education

In this special issue released on the occasion of University Day of NMIMS (Deemed to be) University, we present four thoughtful research manuscripts by scholars resident at NMIMS. We also present relevant abstracts from Dr. Radhakrishnan Commission Report of 1948, because we found the Report to be relevant in substantial measure even after almost 70 years.

Shri Vile Parle Kelavani Mandal, with the help of a donation from Narsee Monjee Educational Trust, established a Management institute of the Mumbai University in 1981. Based on its recognized excellence, University Grants Commission granted Deemed-to-be-University status to the Institute in early 2000s. The University now offers comprehensive education (undergraduate, graduate, executive and doctoral education) across a variety of disciplines including Architecture, Business, Commerce, Economics, Education, Engineering, Pharmacy, Science, and Technology.

This special issue features research contributions and insights from the distinguished scholars at this University. Please review them and connect with these and other scholars at NMIMS University.

Here, in this editorial, we present reflections of the importance of diversity in higher education.

On Diversity

As an academic, I am interested in the role of diversity in educational institutions, corporate work place, non-profit organizations, and in public policy making. But, here, in this short essay, I want to focus on one focused but an important question: Should diversity be a consideration to admissions in colleges and universities? This question resonates all over the world. In India, diversity is largely represented in terms of gender and caste. In United States, one of the important representations of diversity is race.

To deepen the understanding, I restrict my discussion to admissions to US higher educational institutions. Policies that are optimal for US are at least suggestive for other societies and somewhat generalizable to different situations of our decision- making and choices.

While the overall enrollment in higher education may be declining in US, admission to the good schools has become monumentally competitive. For example, in recent years the admission rates in elite institutions have hovered around 5 percent (University of Chicago’s rate has plummeted to about 8 percent from about 40 percent.) The admission rates are less than half of what they used to be a decade earlier. Deluged by more applications than ever, the selective educational institutions are rejecting a vast majority of applications. In this context, admission to a credible educational institution is a matter of substantial public import and it is worth examining if diversity should be an element in admission decisions.

The highly selective institutions like Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Yale and others, use a complex and subjective process to consider, from a pre-screened pool of qualified candidates, each person’s full range of accomplishments, experiences and potential. To achieve broad diversity, the institutions also take into account race and ethnicity, among other factors.

A large number of educationists and policy makers argue that a diverse student body promotes cross-racial understanding and dialogue, reduces racial isolation and helps to break down stereotypes. And that such education better prepares students to contribute in an increasingly diverse workforce and society.

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