Student enrollment at predominantly black private colleges increased last year at 7 times the rate of the growth at white private colleges and universities nationally, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) reported today.
The growth, UNCF officials said, reflects a turn of social awareness in young blacks which sees them turning away from predominatly white universities and colleges and opting instead for black colleges.
It also reflects a tenfold increase of the number of white students at black colleges from 1969 to last year. The enrollment rose from 37 to 399.
Significantly, a UNCF study showed that in 1975-76 two-thirds of the black colleges with enrollments of 1,000 or less showed classroom gains, while, nationally, small colleges suffered the worst enrollment losses.
Overall, total enrollment at the 41 UNCF-supported black colleges and universities rose last year from 42,040 to 45,214, for a gain of 7.5 per cent, compared with 1.9 per cent growth at other private institutions of higher learning.
Between 1969 and last year, undergraduate enrollment at UNCF colleges rose from 33,472 to 40,619, or 5 per cent, while undergraduate enrollment nationally at private institutions decreased by 1 per cent during the same period.
The UNCF is a non-profit organization that raises funds to help maintain its member colleges.
Nationally last year, about 450,000 blacks attended four-year colleges and universities. They were matched by an equal number attending two-year colleges.
The UNCF study also disclosed that more than 17 per cent of all degrees awarded at black colleges last year were in business administration, or approximately twice the number of business degress earned the previous year.
Morris B. Abram, chairman of the UNCF board and former president of Brandeis University, said "Government and industry are seeking qualified minority experts in specialized fields, such as engineering and business, which were formerly closed to blacks.
"Recognizing this, our students are choosing courses of study with practical applications, and fewer students are graduating in the more traditional majors, such as teaching, where the job market had dried up."
The UNCF study also showed that black colleges have one faculty member for every 14.1 students, while the average nationally is one faculty member for ever 16.4 students.
Almost half of the undergraduate students at black colleges in 1975, according to the study, came from families whose total annual incomes were less than $5,000 in 1975. Nationally, less than 20 per cent of private college students came from families earning less than $10,000 per year.
"The solution to the schools' financial dilemma is not a rise in tuition; the students simply cannot pay it. Rather, we must encourage more generous donations and endowments and government support," Abram said.
The fund reported that endowments at black colleges increased 44.9 per cent from 1971 through 1974; but in 1975 the median endowment decreased 5 per cent from the previous year. In 1975, the median endowment was $891,952.