In the fast-paced world we live in today, where ideas and concepts seem to be consistently growing with time, a popular topic of discussion is ‘diversity’. Of course there are countless views on the topic but this article aims to answer the question ‘Do colleges have diversity quotas?’.
With an increasing magnitude in students applying abroad for their further studies, diversity and inclusion is most often at the back of their minds. This article will not only answer the said question but will also give you insights on the meaning of diversity, the need for diversity in colleges, the the benefits of attending a college with a diverse environment, the pros and cons of diversity quotas, and it will also cite a few examples.
What is diversity?
By definition ‘diversity’ is ‘the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.’
What is the need for diversity in colleges?
All colleges aim to produce education of a high quality. However, it all boils down to how each college chooses to enhance their educational experience. A concept that has been popularly adopted in the last decade is that of diversity and inclusion.
Colleges and universities all over the world have started recognising the importance and the need of enhancing the college experience by creating an environment that is safe, secure and welcoming to all individuals irrespective of their cultural, ethnicity, religious backgrounds, etc. These needs stem from the fact that diversity brings to the table so much more than the basic necessities.
It brings perspective, growth, different methods of management and learning, global views, awareness and loads more. Hence, administrative professionals and authorities have started to introduce the idea of ‘diversity quotas’ in order to streamline the concept of diversity in colleges.
What are the benefits of attending a diverse college?
As an international student, it is possible that you may feel alone and distant which is only natural given the fact that you are far from home, far from a comfort zone. However, if you have chosen to be part of a college or university that understands and recognises the importance of creating a diverse environment, you can be rest assured that being away from home won’t be as bad as you initially believed it to be.
Here are some of the benefits of attending a diverse college:
- Meeting new people from all over the world helps you adopt new perspectives on life, pushing you to expand your horizon.
- Being in a diverse environment prepares you for the real world. In reality, the world is filled with different types of people and it is important that we learn how to interact respectfully with others.
- You can be exposed to much richer experiences, filled with different ideas and global views.
- Not only learning to respect each other’s differences but also leveraging these differences for the better is an important aspect of being a part of a diverse institution.
- Collaboration in diversity gives rise to better outcomes. In a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it was observed that ideas engineered by diverse teams were of a superior quality in terms of effectiveness and feasibility.
Diversity Quotas in College
Now that we have our basis covered on what exactly diversity is and how it contributes to education, let’s take a look at what a diversity quota is and how it works.
Such quotas are numerical requirements for hiring, promoting, admitting and/or graduating members of a particular group in terms of community, ethnicity, geographic belonging. The world seems to have a mixed opinion on diversity quotas, some countries discourage the idea on the account of the fact that a person is considered not based on their merit but more their external attributes.
Other countries believe this is the best way to ensure a diverse environment. Diversity quotas like most other concepts has its pros and cons that are part and parcel of the conception of the idea. Here are some of the pros and cons of diversity quotas in colleges:-
- Diversity quotas are sure to facilitate an educational experience surrounded by thoughts and beliefs from various cultures, communities, religions, genders, ethnicities, etc.
- Giving a voice and opportunity to people who otherwise struggle to be rightfully heard.
- Enabling a minority community to go after their educational and vocational aspirations. For example, it enables women to bring forward from the backward thinking of misogyny.
- Equipping people with knowledge, exposure to new belief systems and ways of life that they were previously not exposed to.
- It compels people to take diversity and inclusion seriously.
- The idea of forcing the candidacy of a particular group sometimes hurts the sentiments of the group and is indeed an underestimation of their capabilities.
- People also believe that forcing diversity through quotas is an unnatural way of bringing about diversity and this unnatural method often takes away from the true essence of diversity.
- Diversity quotas are often resisted because it is perceived as unfair and untrue to the college standards.
- A number of educational institutions believe in creating a diverse environment. However the do not believe in diversity quotas as what comes first in terms of their values is ‘equality’. It is believed that quotas are not the ‘equal way’ of going about creating a secure and diverse environment.
It is evident and understandable that there are institutes and countries who resist and discourage the idea of having a diversity quota. However, some institutions believe in taking small steps to ensure diversity and inclusion. Below are some examples of how institutions adopt ideas from diversity quotas:
- Institutions commit to accepting a certain percentage of female students in order to uplift and encourage women.
- There are institutions that aim to balance the percentages of different countries and their own in order to pave the way for international students but also give equal opportunities to their domestic students.
- Certain countries have adopted a policy of reserving seats for backward communities in order to give them the exposure they deserve and the opportunity to contribute as much as the others.
- In order to ensure that all students from across the globe are given the chance to be admitted into a college or university, some institutions have a set capacity of students from each continent.
- Several policies are designed in such a way that no potential student is refused admission based on their gender, colour, cultural, ethnic, or religious background.
While colleges adopt certain ideas in order to create an environment that is diverse in nature, there are possibly no colleges that have a strict ‘diversity quota’ in play due to the fact that their countries have made it an illegal practice or simply because they believe it to be a method that is far too extreme in engineering a diverse environment.
Most colleges do have policies that encourage, enable, support, promote and safeguard diversity but very few to none that have a set quota in place.