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Oregonian Analysis: State College Enrollment Diversifies

PORTLAND, Ore. — The number of Latino and multiracial students attending Oregon’s public universities has more than doubled in the past seven years, according to an analysis of enrollment records by a Portland newspaper.

The state’s public universities collectively saw enrollment rise 5 percent from 2010 to 2016, largely because of an influx of minority students, reported The Oregonian/OregonLive. The change at the state’s public universities reflects the shifting demographics of Oregon, where the Latino population has surged by 72 percent since 2000 and now makes up 12 percent of the state population.

The state has also given increased funding to schools that enroll students of color or those from low-income households.

Portland State University specifically worked to recruit Latino students and people from other underrepresented populations, according to a news release from the school’s president.

The University of Oregon also took steps to recruit Latino students, including sponsoring community events and buying advertising on Univision, according to the school’s vice president of student services and enrollment management.

But the numbers show that state schools could do more to bring in minority students. According to state records, 21 percent of 2015-16 high school seniors were Hispanic or Latino, compared to only 9.8 percent of the state’s current public college students.

“The trend is very much in the right direction,” said Ben Cannon, the executive director of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. “We are closing those gaps, but a gap still exists.”

Cannon said he doesn’t believe the Latino population doubled because of schools recruiting out of state, but he’s not positive. He said he’d like to see the demographics broken down by in-state and out-of-state students.

The analysis also found that the schools’ Black student population remains low. Only Oregon State University and Western Oregon University had Black student populations above 3 percent. That’s a bit higher, however, than the percentage of Black high school seniors last school year.

The newspaper also found that White student enrollment dropped by about 8 percent statewide over the same time period. About 61 percent of public college students are White.

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