Asian Americans Oppose Race-Based College Admissions, Pew Survey Finds

(Glen Cooper/Getty Images)
June 12, 2023

Three-quarters of Asian Americans oppose race-based college admissions, according to a poll released days before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on affirmative action.

The Pew Research survey, published Thursday, found that 76 percent of Asian Americans believe colleges should not consider race or ethnicity when making admissions decisions.

Just over half of Asian Americans who have heard of affirmative action have a favorable view of it, while only 19 percent say it is a bad thing, per the poll. When asked directly about the use of race to screen college applicants, however, only 21 percent say they are in favor.

The poll results come as the Supreme Court is preparing to rule on two affirmative action challenges that the group Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) brought against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. In oral arguments, the majority-conservative Court appeared ready to overturn previous rulings that permit colleges to use race as a factor in admissions.

SFFA has argued that Harvard in its admissions process specifically discriminated against Asian Americans, who as a group are academic overachievers.

The Pew results are in line with other surveys. A 2022 Washington Post poll found that 65 percent of Asian Americans support banning colleges and universities from considering race, along with 63 percent of all U.S. adults.

"Overall, majorities of Asian adults across gender, age, education, and origin groups say race or ethnicity should not factor into college admissions," the Pew survey states. Clear majorities across the political spectrum opposed race-based college admissions, with 90 percent of Asian Republicans saying race should not be a factor, along with 69 percent of Asian Democrats.

According to the Pew survey, 87 percent of respondents say that high school grades should be considered. Seventy-one percent say standardized test scores and community service should play roles in admissions decisions.

Asian-American views on the issue reflect the views of Americans in general. Eighty-two percent of U.S. adults believe colleges should not consider race in admissions decisions, the survey found.