Donald Trump’s officials have repealed guidances from the Obama Administration promoting diversity in higher education admissions.

Seven guidances were among 24 nullified by Attorney General Jeff Sessions (pictured) on Tuesday as “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper”.

The Obama-era guidances set out that race should not be the primary factor in an admissions decision, but that it could be considered as part of the promotion of diversity. They said colleges and universities had a “compelling interest” in “obtaining the benefits that flow from achieving a diverse student body”.

Conservative activists have attacked “affirmative action” for racial diversity for decades. The Obama guidances modified those of the Bush Administration in 2008, which said racial classifications “highly suspect” and “impermissible” in admissions decisions unless they were “narrowly tailored” to meet a “compelling governmental interest”.

In 2016 the Supreme Court narrowly upheld the premise of race-based admissions., but colleges and universities can potentially use the Trump Administration’s line, from the Education and Justice Departments, to defend themselves against lawsuits over their admission policies.

In a high-profile case, Asian-American students are suing Harvard University for alleged exclusion of some Asian-American applicants to maintain slots for students of other races.

Eight states prohibit the use of information on race in admissions to public higher education institutions: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Washington.