Harvard admissions applications fall sharply amid antisemitism controversy


Harvard reported a 17% decline in its early admissions applications compared to a year ago as the Ivy League college remains embroiled in controversy over its handling of antisemitism on campus.

Harvard College announced Thursday that it accepted 692 students to the class of 2028 out of the 7,921 applicants who applied under Harvard’s Early Action Program, which required applications to be submitted by Nov. 1. 

That amounts to a 17% drop compared to last year’s early application window when 9,553 submitted applications, and is the smallest number of early applicants since the pandemic began – though this year’s group is larger than the annual early applications received in the 2017-2019 period.

Two of Harvard’s fellow Ivy League institutions saw increases in the number of early applications received. 


Yale University received 7,856 early applications this year, an increase of 1.4% from a year ago and the second-highest number in its history, the school announced in a release Friday. The University of Pennsylvania – which saw President Liz Magill resign last week amid a controversy over the handling of antisemitism on campus – also saw 500 more applications than last year, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Harvard’s leadership has faced calls for their resignation in the wake of Hamas’ terror attack on Israel, which sparked a wave of protests on campus. Some of those protests have focused on criticism of Israel to the exclusion of Hamas’ terrorism while others featured calls for a free Palestine “from the river to the sea” – a statement that critics call antisemitic and genocidal because it implies the elimination of the state of Israel and its Jewish majority.

The controversy over antisemitism on campus and the response by Harvard’s leaders sparked a backlash from the elite university’s base of alumni and donors which intensified after President Claudine Gay’s congressional testimony on the subject. 


Bill Ackman, the billionaire co-founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management who earned his bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Harvard, has repeatedly called for Gay to resign. 

In a letter sent last week to the Harvard Corporation, the school’s governing board, Ackman wrote, “President Gay’s failures have led to billions of dollars of cancelled, paused, and withdrawn donations to the university. I am personally aware of more than a billion dollars of terminated donations from a small group of Harvard’s most generous Jewish and non-Jewish alumni.”

Bill Ackman

The Wexner Foundation, named for billionaire and former Victoria’s Secret CEO Les Wexner, informed Harvard this fall that it is “no longer compatible partners” with the prestigious university it has worked with for over three decades. The Foundation explained that it is terminating the relationship due to what it called “the dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli citizens by terrorists.”

Billionaire Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, who has donated $500 million to Harvard including $300 million in the current academic year, urged Harvard administrators to take a stance condemning Hamas’ terrorism after a letter from the school’s Palestine Solidarity Committee penned a letter placing the sole blame for the attack on Israel.


Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University, speaking

The board of the Harvard Corporation gave President Gay a vote of confidence despite the calls for her resignation over the antisemitism controversy as well as allegations of plagiarism.

“As members of the Harvard Corporation, we today reaffirm our support for President Gay’s continued leadership of Harvard University. Our extensive deliberations affirm our confidence that President Gay is the right leader to help our community heal and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing,” the Harvard Corporation wrote Tuesday.

“So many people have suffered tremendous damage and pain because of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack, and the University’s initial statement should have been an immediate, direct, and unequivocal condemnation,” the statement continued. “Calls for genocide are despicable and contrary to fundamental human values. President Gay has apologized for how she handled her congressional testimony and has committed to redoubling the University’s fight against antisemitism.”

FOX Business’s Pilar Arias and Breck Dumas contributed to this report.

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