University enrolment in the United States will swell by a fifth by 2015, thanks to the rise in births, increased immigration and the growing economic value of a higher degree, according to a new study.
It predicts numbers will rise from 13 million to a predicted 16 million over the period.
Black, Hispanic and Asian-American students are expected to account for 80 per cent of the growth, and the proportion of white students on campuses nationwide will drop from the current 71 per cent to 63 per cent in 2015.
By then, whites will be a minority on campuses in California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii and New Mexico.
The study raised worries about how institutions would accommodate the burgeoning demand, and who would pay.
Sonia Hernandez, deputy superintendent of the California department of education, said: "I am very worried that we could fail these students. Even if these students manage to go to college, they may be forced to attend colleges that are less selective."
California is one of just five out of the 50 states that will account for more than half the overall increase in undergraduates. The others are Arizona, New York and Texas, which also have large Hispanic populations. The number of minority students will climb by 2 million, rising from less than 30 per cent of undergraduates to nearly 40 per cent, the report says.
Still, minority university enrolment is not growing as fast as the college-age black and Hispanic population. Participation by blacks and Hispanics in higher education will decrease in proportion to their populations.