Frank L. Morris Sr., dean of graduate studies at Morgan State University, says the nation's graduate schools systematically resist qualified black applicants in favor of foreign doctoral candidates. "The unspoken norm, almost not questioned, is that somehow international diversity is more to be valued than local diversity," Dr. Morris charged. "As society becomes much more technological, we [blacks] as a people are being shut out."
There's no denying black graduate students are underrepresented on the nation's campuses, particularly in science and math. In 1990, only 3.4 percent of U.S. doctoral degrees were awarded to blacks. In the same year foreign students, whose numbers on U.S. campuses have doubled over the past decade, won nearly a third of U.S. Ph.D.s. But it's a stretch to suggest, as Dr. Morris does, that there is a causal link between these facts.
It is likely that several different trends are at work. One is the well-documented gap between foreign and U.S. students generally in math and science -- a gap that has occurred, moreover, in an era when technical subjects have become the most important magnet for university research funds. Foreign students take more math and science in high school than U.S. students and score higher on standardized tests. So they are overrepresented in the applicant pool for graduate studies.