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Jewish Enrollment in U.S. Colleges Increasing; Quota System is ‘dead’

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Jewish enrollment at American colleges jumped 8.5 percent this semester, spiraling the demands for Jewish student services on the campus, B’nai B’rith was told today at its 117th annual meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel by Dr. William Haber, national chairman of B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation.

Dr. Haber forecast an enrollment of 400,000 Jewish undergraduates and graduate students by 1970. This would mean doubling the number of Jewish collegians in a 15-year period, he said. The enrollment study, conducted by Hillel Foundation operating on 225 campuses in the United States, showed a higher rate of increase for Jewish students than the 5.6 percent rise this year in the general student population.

Dr. Haber, who is professor of economics at the University of Michigan, said the statistics on Jewish enrollments were “somewhat unexpected.” Since proportionately twice as many Jewish high school graduates have matriculated in recent years as compared to all high school graduates–a ratio of two-thirds to one-third–“we anticipated a saturation point and a percentage decline among the Jewish group,” he said.

He attributed the increase to “unusually higher Jewish enrollments this year in small colleges located in rural areas or in isolated communities separated from the urban centers of Jewish community life.” The increase among small schools is 16 percent, Dr. Haber reported. He cited several instances of small colleges, encouraging registration from metropolitan areas such as New York, whose Jewish enrollments are now twice what they were a year ago.

The quota system, which at one time restricted the number of Jewish students seeking admission to college, “is today virtually dead,” Dr. Haber declared. Moreover, he added, “booming enrollment coupled with the hospitable attitudes to religious identification by university officials have created unparalleled pressures to increase extra-curricular activities on the campus.”

This was also emphasized by Rabbi Benjamin M. Kahn of Washington, D. C., who directed and analyzed the enrollment study. He is national director of Hillel Foundation.

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