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Higher Education Strategies to Increase Diversity (Research Paper Sample)


The purpose of this paper was to discuss higher education strategies to increase diversity; Diversity in various institutions; Advantages of diversity in these institutions; and barriers to diversity.


Higher Education Strategies to Increase Diversity
Higher Education Strategies to Increase Diversity
The term "diversity" refers to many demographic variables such as race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, geographic origin, education, and skill characteristics. Diversity is a powerful agent of change that must be embraced if colleges and universities are to be successful in a pluralistic and interconnected world. While technology has long been recognized as a transformative element of society, the dynamics of diversity are shaping the world, and its institutions with equal impact. Like technology, diversity offers significant opportunities to fulfill the mission of higher education and to pave way for institutional excellence (Hall, Martinez, Tuan, McMahon, & Chain, 2011). Engaging diversity in higher education requires an understanding of the national and international concerns that set the context for campus approaches. While discussions concerning globalization commonly focus on commerce, it is important to look beyond market-driven matters to other domains as they emerge around the world, because they introduce important perspectives to the topic of diversity in higher education (Johnson, Cortese & Weingarten, 2006). This paper intends to discuss higher education strategies to increase diversity; Diversity in various institutions; Advantages of diversity in these institutions; and barriers to diversity.
Diversity in California State schools
Most of the public schools in Berkeley, California reflect the district’s multiracial student population despite the fact that the state is deeply segregated by race-ethnicity and socioeconomic status. As a way of embracing diversity, in 2004, the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) initiated a student assignment plan that aimed at providing equitable schooling choices for families, and integrating the district’s elementary schools by household income, race, and family background. This plan was backed with procedures that ensured that its choice-based system addressed the interests and preferences of all families in the district, while at the same time enhancing school equity to make all schools equally attractive (Chavez & Frankenberg, 2009).
BUSD has a long history of desegregation efforts that have always incorporated family choice preferences in realizing the district’s diversity goals. For instance, in 2000, it explored revising of its student assignment policy to go beyond race-ethnicity and involve measures of socioeconomic status. As a result, a new student assignment policy was initiated for the 2000-2005 academic year, and it has been in use up-to-date. BUSD plan assigns students to schools and programs using a software program known as "Assignware" that was specifically designed for BUSD by Bruce Wicinas. Some of the priorities that are considered while assigning Berkeley residents to schools include Berkeley residents living within the attendance zone; Berkeley residents who are siblings to any current student attending the school; and Berkeley residents living outside the attendance zone.
Diversity at the University of California and other universities
The first study of the ethnic/racial background of students at the University of California came because of a growing anti-alien political movement. A report to the university’s board revealed that 3% of the students were of Asian background. As per the census data at that time, Asian Americans at California State were approximately three percent of the state’s total population. Most of the university’s regents at that time were against enrollment of foreign nationals. However, the University’s presidents embraced diversity in the sense that a great university ought to be cosmopolitan, enrolling students not only from Europe, but also from the vast markets Asia and the world at large. Across the nine undergraduate campuses of the university of California, approximately 95% of Asian-pacific Rim and 88% of Latino respondents in 2006 claimed that they or one of the relatives were born outside of the United State (Douglass, Roebken & Thomson, 2007).
In addition, Berkeley Campus is currently one of the true Immigrant University, providing a route for socioeconomic mobility that enables the immigrant groups to attain tertiary education in a public and prestigious university where costs are relatively lower that in private universities. At Berkeley Campus, there are noteworthy correlations with race and ethnicity, educational attainment of parents/family members, as well as socioeconomic status. Although it is among the most selective universities in the United States, it is now a remarkably cosmopolitan university with one of the most diverse undergraduate student bodies, reflecting some profound demographic changes in California (Edley, 2006). There are various factors, which determine who gets into Berkeley, and their student experience. For instance, socio-economic capital plays a significant role during student enrollment process. The most significant correlation for those who enroll and succeed academically at Berkeley, is the educational capital of their parents, which also correlates heavily to their social, economic, and cognitive capital. In other words, many of the students at Berkeley share a high level of socioeconomic capital, which makes many racial and immigrant groups more alike (Douglass, Roebken & Thomson, 2007).
In Towson University, administrators have taken a proactive step of forming a Diversity Coordinating Council. Membership of the council consists of the Vice President for Academic affairs, Vice president for Student Affairs and Diversity, Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Assistant to the President for Diversity, and the Vice President for Administration and Finance. The council is supported by Diversity Action Committee, Which was broadened in 2010, in order to better implement the mission of the council. Students and representatives of diversity related groups in the university are also involved in the council actions (Phelan, Simpson, Luther & Seeberger, 2011).
In order for the tertiary institutions to attract students from diverse backgrounds, and realize high level of academic excellence, the environment in these institutions must be one in which diversity is valued and protected. To the contrary, hate crimes are prevalent in these institutions. Research has revealed that one in every ten students reported that someone in their school has called them a derogatory word related to religion, race, disability, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. As result, leaders in various institutions ought to adopt strategies that will pave way for diversity in academic institutions, in order to curtail these and many other instances.
Importance of diversity in Higher learning Institutions
America’s colleges and universities differ in different ways. They range from large urban universities to small rural campuses. Some focus primarily on graduate and professional programs, while others offer mainly undergraduate education. All these institutions share a common belief that diversity in their faculties, student bodies, and staff is essential in fulfilling their primary mission. The public is entitled to know the reasons behind the belief that racial and ethnic diversity is a key factor in the process of enrolling students and hiring new staff. These reasons include the fact that diversity has a positive effect on the quality of learning (Phelan, Simpson, Luther & Seeberger, 2011). Moreover, students who collaborate with peers from different cultures and backgrounds self-rapport positive gains in learning. In addition, diversity enhances personal growth and paves ways for a health society. It challenges some of the stereotyped preconceptions; promotes critical thinking; and helps students to know how to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.
Moreover, research has revealed that diversity strengthens communities and workplaces. Education acquired in a diverse setting nurture students in such a way that they become responsible citizens in an increasingly complex and pluralistic society, and it helps build societies whose members are defined by the quality of their character and their contributions. Taking an example of the United States, diversity has been one of the key factors in enhancing America’s economic competitiveness (Johnson, Cortese & Weingarten, 2006).
Barriers to diversity
Although administrators and faculty members across different countries express strong support for improving faculty diversity, there has not been significant movement on the diversity front. Currently, the major problem of achieving diversity in higher learning institutions lies in the origin of academic cultures. The context of higher learning institutions in United States is confined into a centuries old German research model, borrowed from Europe, and fixed in the British colonial College-System. The predominance of a specific learning environment tends to exclude all others, and it clearly portrays a picture of the cultural context of higher education nowadays (Phelan, Simpson, Luther & Seeberger, 2011). Additionally, there are inadequate support structures for underrepresented students. Although the number of underserved groups in various learning institutions has increased tremendously, these institutions have not initiated measures to ensure that these groups are substantially served. Furthermore, some faculty members argue that campus diversity influences students positively. However, they have not made changes in their classroom practices, to pave way for diversity (Hockings, Brett & Terentjevs, 2...
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