Bill To Extend Top Ten Percent Cap Passes House

With time running out at the legislature, a UT-specific cap on the Top 10 Percent Law takes another step forward in the legislative process.

Top Ten Percent Cap Passes Texas House

The Texas House of Representatives endorsed a measure Friday that would extend an existing cap on automatic admissions to UT-Austin.  The bill limits admissions under the Top 10 Percent law to 75 percent of an incoming class through the 2017-2018 school year.  A similar bill was passed by the full Senate last month. If either chamber now approves the other’s version of the Top 10 cap, which are identical, the bill will move to the Gov. Rick Perry’s desk for signing.

UT-Austin administrators have provided expert testimony on the effects of the cap, and what would happen to admissions were it to expire. UT president Bill Powers and admissions director Kedra Ishop testified to the House higher education committee, noting that without the cap, the University’s freshman class would be made up of more than 90 percent automatic admissions. This would limit the flexibility with which the University could select students, as well as its ability to attract out-of-state and foreign students.

Bill author Dan Branch (R-Dallas), chair of the House higher education committee, also included a provision that would protect the cap against potential fallout from the Fisher v. University of Texas case. A 2009 measure, set to expire in 2015, contained a condition that a court ruling against the use of race in admissions would nullify the cap. The new extension removes that provision in light of the Fisher case, for which a decision is expected soon.

Currently, more than 30,000 top 10 percent students graduate each year in Texas, and slightly more than one-third apply to UT-Austin.

“President Powers has been very clear about our mission and our goals to recruit, enroll, retain, and graduate a diverse student body,” Ishop told the Alcalde. She points to the sheer number of applicants, saying growth and recruitment will outpace the University’s capacity regardless of the Fisher decision.

“Texas is one of only a handful of states in the U.S. that are increasing their number of high school graduates,” said Ishop. “Currently, more than 30,000 top 10 percent students graduate each year in Texas, and slightly more than one-third apply to UT-Austin.”

Editor’s Note: The Texas Exes supports legislation to extend the cap on Top 10. Read more about the Texas Exes legislative priorities here.

Photo courtesy B*2 via Flickr Creative Commons.


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