For us Hispanics, few things are more important for the future of our children than health and education. Unfortunately the statistics do not lie and although we have made great strides in the enrollment of Hispanics in the classrooms of higher education, the current figures are worrying.
Although we are already almost 20% of the population of the United States, Hispanics are only 6% of the students in doctoral courses. Even in a group of universities that serve Latinos, the percentage of Hispanic graduates was only 13.2% during the 2019-2020 school year.
In the master’s courses we did a little better, since during the same cycle 38,000 students graduated, around 21.2% of the school population.
But in the area of university professors the situation is even more alarming. Full-time Hispanic faculty represented just 9.3% of the faculty population during the fall 2020 academic year.
To transform that reality, 20 of the nation’s top research universities formed the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities (HSRU). The goal for 2030: Double the number of Hispanic doctoral students enrolled in Alliance universities, and increase Hispanic faculty in Alliance universities by 20%.
“The goal is to be able to generate a source from which Hispanic talent at the doctoral level could begin to be incorporated into other universities that are not only those that serve Hispanics, but throughout the entire higher education system in the United States,” tells us one of the members of the Alliance, the interim president of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Javier Reyes, of Mexican origin.
One of the structural causes that complicates the situation of higher education for Latinos is the cost. To get a doctorate or professorship, it is necessary to first complete a baccalaureate and a master’s degree, an investment that is out of the reach of many families. Although school debt is an option, the reality is that the costs deter many talents from pursuing an academic career.
But Dr. Reyes is optimistic because another objective of the alliance is to create awareness in Hispanic Latino communities of the financial programs that exist to support higher education. “Many times there are resources that we are leaving on the table,” he tells me.
And sometimes it is not known that in doctoral courses, universities normally offer scholarships, since students not only complete their courses, but also do research and act as professors of the academic institutions themselves.
The success of this commendable Academic Alliance depends largely on whether the new generations of Hispanics and Latinos recognize higher education as a beneficial professional perspective for their personal growth, for their communities, and for their pockets. We are convinced that this will be the case, because we have no other option.
For more information, visit hsru.org