A university in the US state of Illinois has said 5% of applicants voluntarily noted they were gay, bi or trans on admission forms.

Elmhurst College, based outside Chicago was the first university in the country to ask prospective students the question at the end of last year.

Shane L. Windmeyer, of Campus Pride told the Chronicle of Higher Education last year: “By standardizing this question, we can match students up with resources and start to communicate with them.

He expected many schools to follow Elmhurst’s lead, saying, “In the next 10 years, we’ll look back and ask why colleges didn’t make this change much sooner.”

Gary Rold, the Dean of Admission told the Chicago Tribune: “We didn’t know what to expect, which is why we asked the question.”

63 of the 109 openly gay, bi and trans students were accepted onto a course out of 2,200 applicants in total.

While between 85 and 90% of applicants answered the question, Rold acknowledged the true number of gay students may be higher as many families are closely involved with university application forms.

The Common Application system, which is used by 400 schools, declined to include a similar question on their forms last year.

A statement said: “Many admissions officers and secondary school counsellors expressed concern regarding how this question might be perceived by students, even though it would be optional.”

But Rold said five other universities had approached Elmhurst College since the move, which may include Harvard, which announced it was considering such a move in November.

Last year, Harvard hired a director of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender life.