How Harvard limits the number of Asian applicants it accepts

A lawsuit accuses Harvard of treating Asian Americans unfairly in its admissions process. In this file

But according to an affirmative action lawsuit filed by a group representing Asian-American students, the school consistently scored Asian-American applicants lower than other groups on personal qualities, which affected their admission chances, reports the New York Times.

In a statement, Harvard said on Friday that a full analysis of the data shows the school "does not discriminate against applicants from any group, including Asian-Americans, whose rate of admission has grown 29 percent over the last decade".

Students for Fair Admissions claims Harvard routinely assigns lower scores to Asian-American in ratings that puts them at a major disadvantage compared to white students.

The court documents, filed in federal court in Boston, also showed that Harvard conducted an internal investigation into its admissions policies in 2013 and found a bias against Asian-American applicants.

Harvard says the OIR analysis was preliminary, and that it will defend its approach to achieving a diverse school body and campus community.

This year, Harvard sent acceptance letters to a mere 4.6 percent of its applicants.

Harvard told the court in Boston that the plaintiffs' analysis paints "a dangerously inaccurate picture of Harvard College's whole-person admissions process by omitting critical data and information factors, such as personal essays and teacher recommendations".

"Having failed to persuade the Supreme Court to invalidate the admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin, they have now trained their sights on Harvard, a private university, which has long sought to assemble an extraordinary and diverse class of undergraduates by conducting a wide-ranging review of each applicant's background and experience", Harvard said in their court filing.

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There is also an exhaustive process of reading, review and commentary before the admissions committee votes on each application. But the personality ratings drastically reduced their chances of getting admitted.

The complaint states that Asian-American applicants who applied to Harvard were not selected despite having "almost flawless SAT scores, top 1% GPAs, plus significant awards of leadership positions in various extracurricular activities".

Asked about the statement, Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, said Thursday: "I decline to respond to President Faust's allegations and instead will let our upcoming filing speak for itself". The plaintiffs received access to a large cache of internal admission data in the pretrial phase of the case.

Instead, Harvard sought its own study from David Card, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who found no evidence of discrimination.

Blum's group says the report is proof of intentional discrimination and that Harvard 'killed the study and quietly buried the reports'. University of Texas. Those standards require that schools use "race-neutral" qualifications to make admission decisions before considering racial classifications.

Harvard argued that its records should be filed confidentially to protect students and the admissions process.

Spurred by the SFFA case, Harvard has also drawn the scrutiny of the U.S. Justice Department, which opened a probe into the role of race in its admissions policies last November.

The judge ultimately sided with Harvard, but Blum said Friday that he believes the rest of the records will be released "in the next few weeks".

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