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Freshmen of Asian or Pacific-island descent outnumbered white freshmen at the University of California at Los Angeles for the first time last fall, according to recently released enrollment figures.

There were 1,435 Asian-American, Filipino, and Pacific-Islander freshmen enrolled at the school for the 1990-91 academic year, compared with 1,290 white freshmen. Students from those minorities represented 39.6 percent of all freshmen, while whites made up 35.9 percent.

Last year, students of Asian or Pacific-island descent composed 29.3 percent of the new u.c.l.a. freshmen, and whites composed 41.8 percent.

Officials attributed the changes in ethnic composition to changing demographics, high-school graduation patterns, and differing rates of eligibility for admission.

At the same time, the percentages of incoming American-Indian, African-American, and Hispanic students have declined slightly.

A group of prestigious private colleges has canceled an annual meeting that had been used to share financial information on common applicants.

Under scrutiny by the U.S. Justice Department since 1989 for possibly violating antitrust statutes, the 23 schools announced the meeting's cancellation "as a sign of good faith," according to a statement issued by Princeton University.

The statement said the schools being investigated have had "considerably more opportunity to exchange views" with the department this year than last, when the meeting was held as scheduled.

College officials involved in the meetings have said they are useful to help determine a family's contribution toward a child's college education and to use financial aid more effectively. The Justice Department, however, is trying to determine whether the schools have illegally engaged in fixing tuition prices, salaries, and financial-aid awards.

Howard University trustees on March 2 endorsed President Franklyn G. Jenifer's recommendations to toughen admissions standards and eliminate or consolidate several departments.

The unanimous vote for Mr. Jenifer's plan indicates the trustees' willingness to develop what he calls the "Howard University Index," a formula to determine admission based on a student's high-school grade-point average, class rank, and Scholastic Aptitude Test score.

In addition, the trustees followed Mr. Jenifer's recommendation to eliminate the undergraduate major in education. Instead, Howard will develop a one-year master's program in education for liberal-arts graduates, and a program to teach the skills necessary for teacher certification in most states.

Howard, located in Washington, is one of the nation's best-known historically black colleges.

Donald Kennedy, president of Stanford University, this month announced $7 million in incentives for faculty members to improve undergraduate teaching and called for several changes in the evaluation of faculty performance.

In a document titled "The Improvement of Teaching," Mr. Kennedy said his and other research universities have tended to consider the quantity of research rather than its quality when making evaluations.

Mr. Kennedy also suggested that professors reconsider teaching-related scholarship, such as the authorship of textbooks. He urged establishment of peer-review panels to evaluate teaching to supplement student evaluations.

The U.S. Education Department has released a study saying that 1986 college graduates borrowed more to pay for their education, but the graduates used up a lower percentage of their incomes to repay the loans.

In "Debt Burden Facing College Graduates," the department said that half of all four-year-college graduates were in debt, compared with 34 percent in 1977. Median debt increased from $2,000 to $4,800 during that period, the study said.

But the study noted that the ratio of repayments to gross income was 4 percent in the first year after graduation for 1986 graduates, down from 5.2 percent in 1977.

Copies are available from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Budget, and Evaluation, Room 4049, 400 Maryland Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202.

Nearly 14 million students enrolled in U.S. higher-education institutions last fall, the highest number ever, according to an "Early Estimates" survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The enrollment figures constituted a 3.4 percent, or 461,000, increase over the fall of 1989. The net enrollment increase was the highest since 1980, when 527,000 more students enrolled than the previous year.

The 1990 enrollment growth was 3.8 percent for women and 2.9 percent for men. Women currently outnumber men on the nation's campuses by more than 1 million and constitute 55 percent of the national student body.

Enrollment in public two-year schools increased nearly 7 percent over last year, while in public four-year schools it increased by about 2 percent.

Copies of the survey are available by calling Susan Broyles at (202) 219-1359.--mp

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