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Enrollment of Jews in U.S. Medical Schools Dropped 50 Percent in Last 20 Years

August 7, 1950
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Enrollment of Jewish students in American medical schools has dropped 50 percent in the past 20 years, the American Jewish Congress reported today in disclosing the findings of a study by its Commission on Law and Social Action. Describing its estimate of a 50 percent drop as “possibly conservative,” the A.J.C. attributed the decline to the prevalence of a quota system based on the “concept of racial and religious group acceptance in direct proportion to the general population.”

The Congress study is based on an analysis of surveys by its own staff and by various other groups and individuals covering the period 1925-50. The decline has been extremely sharp in the past 15 years. “It has become obvious during the last 15 years,” the document states, “that this marked differential between the treatment of Jewish and non-Jewish applicants by medical school admission committees throughout the country is due to ‘quota thinking.’ With the number of applications increasing approximately 14 times between 1920 and 1950 while the number of available places in medical schools remained constant, ‘rough quotas’ became the rule of most of these admission committees. As a result, the number of Jews admitted to medical schools was arbitrarily limited with little regard for the qualifications of the excluded applicant.”

The dim prospects for the Jewish applicant to gain admission to medical schools are emphasized by the fact that although Jewish students from New York City are more likely to be accepted in New York City medical schools than anywhere else in the country, the New York institutions also practice quota discrimination. Although half of all Jewish medical students in the country are New York City residents, New York City medical schools accommodate less than one-fourth of Jewish medical students.

“Indeed, our study indicates that the New York City schools may have been the initiators of the quota system,” the Congress said. “A study made by the Commission on Law and Social Action of the Congress shows that approximately 45 percent of the 2,439 students who were admitted in the years 1921-25 in New York City were Jewish and that of the 3,351 who were admitted in the years 1941-45, only 25 percent were Jewish.

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