The Pros and Cons of Affirmative Action in Higher Education

Increased participation of historically underrepresented groups in higher education and the workforce is the goal of the affirmative action program. While opponents claim that affirmative action in higher education is unfair and goes against the meritocracy principle, supporters contend that it is necessary to combat systemic discrimination and promote diversity. The benefits and drawbacks of affirmative action in higher education will be discussed in this essay.

The contentious practice of affirmative action includes both benefits and drawbacks. It can support diversity and widen access to higher education, but it can also undermine the meritocracy ideal and reinforce prejudices. Affirmative action’s success in higher education ultimately rests on how it is put into practice and the outcomes it seeks to produce.

Affirmative Action in Higher Education


  1. By guaranteeing that historically underrepresented groups have equitable access to educational opportunities, affirmative action initiatives can improve diversity in higher education. As a result, preconceptions may be lessened and students may be more prepared for a diverse workforce.
  2. By giving historically oppressed groups opportunities that they may have been denied in the past, affirmative action can help make up for past prejudice. This might support more social and economic fairness by leveling the playing field.
  3. For historically underrepresented groups that may suffer systematic admission hurdles, such as low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities, affirmative action can assist enhance access to higher education. This can ensure that everyone has an equal chance to achieve their academic and professional aspirations.


  1. Affirmative action is criticized as being in violation of the meritocracy concept, which states that candidates should be chosen based on their skills and qualities rather than their race, gender, or other traits. Less qualified candidates may end up being chosen over more qualified ones, which might be detrimental to both the individual and the institution.
  2. Affirmative action is criticized for perpetuating negative stereotypes by implying that historically underrepresented groups are unable to succeed on their own merits. Members of these groups may feel less confident and less self-assured as a result, and this may also foster animosity and separation between various groups.
  3. People who believe they are being discriminated against may react negatively to affirmative action and become resentful. This might damage attempts to promote diversity and inclusiveness on campus and create a bad mood there.