Top 10 Percent Rule stays under new version of bill

Claire Allbright

The Top 10 Percent Rule is here to stay, even if Senate Bill 2119 passes. 

The new version of the bill was left pending before the Senate Committee of Higher Education on Wednesday. This committee substitute would keep the Top 10 Percent Rule in place but only require universities to admit 30 percent of their incoming freshman class using automatic admissions. 

Under current law, a University must admit 75 percent of their freshman class based on automatic admissions. Originally, the bill would have eliminated the Top 10 Percent
Rule entirely. 

State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, said the Top 10 Percent Rule mainly affects UT-Austin and Texas A&M because of their volume of applicants. Seliger said his bill works to reduce the role of government in the college admissions process by not mandating which students these universities admit. 

“I don’t believe top 10 percent was designed to just fill up the freshman classes of those two universities,” Seliger said. “It was designed to see to it that there was a place in colleges for all the students who work hard enough to be in the top 10 percent all over the place.”

Under his bill, Seliger said talent from the top high schools would be better spread out among other public state universities. 

State Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, said the Top 10 Percent Rule was established to increase diversity at the top-tier institutions of the state. Menéndez said the law is currently a “colorblind” and race-neutral approach to accomplish a diverse student body. 

“It’s just based on the high school, so it could be rural Texas, the border, northern Texas, anywhere, and I think that’s given us all kinds of diversity that’s appropriate,”  Menéndez said. “I think from a policy perspective it has been a positive, not a negative.”

Universities would continue to fill 75 percent of their freshman classes using the Top 10 Percent law until all students currently enrolled in high school graduate.

While no one from UT spoke at Wednesday’s committee meeting, Seliger said he has spoken with admission officials from universities across the state who said they would continue to admit more than 30 percent of their classes based on the Top 10 Percent Rule.