B’nai B’rith Starts Census of Jewish Students in U.S. and Canada

The B’nai B’rith Vocational Service Bureau has begun to take a census of Jewish students at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, it was announced here today by Dr. Maurice Jacobs, chairman of the Vocational Service Commission. Letters and questionnaire forms have gone out to almost 2, 00 # institutions of higher education requesting information on Jewish as well as total enrollments and on enrollments in 33 major fields of study, he said. The B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations are cooperating in collecting the information.

This is the third decennial census conducted by B’nai B’rith. Among other things it will indicate the vocational choice of Jewish students and their distribution by state and by type of institution. The information will be used in counseling young Jewish people on career choices in professions and in planning for Jewish cultural and religious activities for students on a nationwide basis.

Preliminary returns indicate a very decided trend among colleges away from the inclusion of questions regarding religion on application blanks and registration forms. So far, approximately 300 institutions have indicated that they cannot provide precise Jewish enrollment data because no questions regarding religion, race or nationality are requested in the application or registration procedure. Many of these schools, however, are able to provide an estimate through the use of voluntary religious preference forms after students have been admitted to the college. The B’nai B’rith Vocational Service Bureau expects to complete the census early in the summer of 1956 and issue a report on its results in the autumn of that year.

The first survey of this type was conducted in 1935 by the B’nai B’rith Hillel Research Bureau under the direction of Dr. Lee Levinger. The second census, taken by the B’nai B’rith Vocational Service Bureau in 1946, was directed by Robert Shosteck, now Director of Research of the Bureau. The 1946 survey included enrollment figures for 1,568 universities and colleges and accounted for 2, 079, 000 students, of whom nine percent were Jewish. In the 1935 survey, almost the same proportion, 9.1 percent, was Jewish.

According to the latest figures of the United States Office of Education, more than 2.7 million students are enrolled in American colleges and universities, and there are probably another 75, 000 in Canada. In the 1946 census, one-half of all the Jewish students were found to be enrolled in schools in the New York City area. The Bureau expects to find the same percentage, approximately, or perhaps a slightly lower proportion when all of the figures come in.

An unexpected by-product of the current census is disclosed in letters received by the Bureau from a number of small colleges, requesting assistance in attracting Jewish students to their campuses.

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