Top Ten Percent Law Under Review

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For years, Texas high school students who ranked in the top ten percent have been rewarded with automatic admission into state universities, but that could all change.

Earlier this week, the Texas Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education approved a bill that would allow colleges to cap those admissions so that top 10 percenters make up no more than 50 percent of their incoming classes. The measure provides assistance to state colleges, like the University of Texas at Austin, whose freshman class is made up mostly of top ten percent applicants.

However, State Senator Steve Ogden said the current rule is fine just the way it is.

"It would ensure a diverse student body by focusing on an academic performance in our schools in the state of Texas," Ogden said.

The top ten percent law is the result of a past court decision that made it illegal to use race in the admission processes at Texas universities.

Ogden said changing it will create political burdens to continue equality in admissions.

"There will be a lot of pressure for the universities to continue to diverse," said Ogden.

Precedence was established in a 2003 when the US Supreme Court ruled that the University of Michigan could use race when giving admittance into their law school.

Ogden said the ruling gives universities who want the cap a legal base to do away with the top ten percent law.

Texas A&M's Dean of Undergraduate Programs Martyn Gunn says top ten percent graduates account for 48 to 49 percent of the university's freshman class.

He admits the law by itself has helped A&M diversify its student population, but says it is not the only resource they rely on.

"We've implemented other programs that has really increased our ethnic diversity of our freshman class," Gunn said.

Gunn says a holistic review of applicants has increased campus diversity more and he said A&M will continue to diversify its incoming classes despite any possible change in the law.

"As far as Texas A&M is concerned it won't really affect us too much," Gunn said.