NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

College Admissions Rule Begins Long Debate

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

Austin, TX – Efforts to scale back the universities' automatic admissions policy known as the ten percent rule will resume today in the Texas House. KERA's Shelley Kofler reports from Austin.


The opposition was ready with procedural roadblocks when Dallas Representative Dan Branch stepped up to the mic.

Branch: I was going to say we might have a little turbulence on the flight but I didn't know we'd have so much trouble getting off the ground.

Branch's legislation would allow universities to relax a rule that says they must admit any high school student who has graduated in the top ten percent. Branch's bill would allow universities to admit others after the top students filled 60 percent of enrollment. The top ten rule was designed to increase campus diversity, but Branch said it had an unintended consequence. At the popular University of Texas in Austin more than 80 percent of incoming freshman are now admitted because of the rule. The university says it has no flexibility to consider others.

Arlington Democrat Chris Turner is lining up in support of the change. He says his district has several large high schools and relaxing the top ten percent rule would allow more of the students to enroll at UT Austin.

Turner: You could have a student whose done very very well but may not mathematically be in the top ten percent that again is where I want to see those students be considered if they have other factors that qualify them.

Dallas Democrat Roberto Alonzo opposes changing the rule.

Alonzo: In my opinion it would hurt my area It's helped a lot of kids around the state diversify both racially in addition to geographically.

Lawmakers have tried numerous times to reform the top ten percent rule. It's passed this Senate this time, but Branch says getting it through the House won't be easy.