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HomeStudentsRacial Equality in US Higher Education Will Take 70 Years: Study

Racial Equality in US Higher Education Will Take 70 Years: Study


Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has determined that it will take seven decades for racial and ethnic parity at non-profit colleges and universities. Historically marginalized populations remain drastically underrepresented in the student body, faculty, and leadership positions.

Based on McKinsey’s analysis, Black, Native American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Latino students continue to have lower graduation rates than white students.

Authors noted that “only 8 percent of institutions have at least equitable student representation while also helping students from underrepresented populations graduate at the same rate as the general US undergraduate population.”

Slow Response

A sluggish response to educational disparities seems to be the reason. McKinsey reported that representation over time has been inconsistent.

In 2013, 38 percent of institutions had a more diverse student racial composition than the average. However, this number only increased to 44 percent by 2020. At this rate of growth, it would take 70 years to reach racial and ethnic equality.

The authors also explained that challenges in the country’s education system, such as declining student enrollment and dwindling completion rates, could make the chance for continued progress even more remote.


McKinsey further noted that it would take around 300 years for faculty from underrepresented populations to catch up with their white counterparts.

Data shows that 88 percent of non-profit universities in the US currently have a less diverse full-time faculty profile compared to 2020. This could be attributed to the shifting structure of education and prevailing systemic inequality.

In this climate, Black, Hispanic, and Native American faculty will have a harder time earning teaching spots, promotions, and salary increases. 

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