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UT-Austin Tightens Admissions to Top 8 Percent of Class


It’s getting a bit harder for students to get into the University of Texas.

State law guarantees admission for students in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class at any public university, but lawmakers this year approved an exception at the UT system’s flagship campus in Austin.

University President William Powers, who complained during the last legislative session that the school had lost control of its admissions procedures, wrote in a letter this week to the Texas education commissioner that the top 8 percent will be eligible for automatic admission starting in 2011.

The 10 percent rule remains in place for the other 37 public schools in Texas.

About 85 percent of freshmen this year got into UT under the 10 percent rule. The new law allows UT to cap automatic admissions at 75 percent, and cutting those admissions to 8 percent would meet that limit, Powers said in his letter detailing the policy change.

The top 10 percent law was adopted a decade ago after a federal appeals court decision made affirmative action illegal in Texas college admissions. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed universities to use race as one of many admissions factors.

Under the new UT policy, the rest of the incoming class will be admitted based on a “holistic review,” Powers said. Race and ethnicity are among those factors.

Last month, a judge dismissed a federal lawsuit brought by two White students claiming admissions policies violate the Constitution and federal law. One of the plaintiffs finished in the top 12 percent of her class but was rejected by UT.

The university admitted about 51,000 undergraduate and graduate students this fall, according to preliminary figures.

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