Immigration and Higher Education
Institutional Responses to Changing Demographics
As immigration increases, so does its influence on U.S. demographics, including the demographics of higher education. Almost as many legal immigrants entered the United States during the 1980s (7.3 million) as during the preceding two decades (7.8 million). How and why have the nation's colleges and universities responded to a growing immigrant population on campus? This report addresses these questions. The picture that emerges is largely one of inattention coupled with widespread assumptions about immigrant students, assumptions that are unconfirmed by empirical data and analysis. The authors argue that, unchecked, these assumptions could result in unfair practices and reduced educational quality for immigrant students. Because of higher education's critical role in promoting economic assimilation, its leaders should be paying more attention to issues involving these students. To do so, they need descriptive statistics about immigrants' enrollment and retention in college, attitudinal and needs assessment studies, and evaluations of student outcomes and the effectiveness of remedial and English-as-a-second-language programs. Such information can help institutions determine whether administration and faculty perceptions and assumptions about immigrants provide an accurate foundation for future policy and program development.