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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Americans lose confidence in higher ed

Americans — especially Republicans — are losing confidence in higher education, reports Gallup. Three years ago, 57 percent of U.S. adults had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in higher education: That’s fallen to 48 percent.

Confidence in Higher Education Declining

Percentage with “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in higher education

20152018Change%%pct. pts.U.S. adults5748-9Republicans5639-17Independents4844-4Democrats6862-6GALLUP

“Many Republicans believe colleges and universities are institutions that promote a liberal political agenda, notes Gallup.

Higher education inspires more confidence than most other institutions, however. While 74 percent express confidence in the military, the presidency and the Supreme Court come in at 37 percent, public schools at 29 percent and the media at 23 percent (newspapers) and 20 percent (television news). Only 11 percent express confidence in Congress.

 Bar graph. Americans have the most confidence in the military, with 74% expressing confidence in the institution.

Montana educators fear voters will reject funding for state universities and colleges on the November ballot, reports Hechinger’s Jon Marcus. Polls show the property tax levy, which is on the ballot every 10 years, could be in trouble.

A variety of surveys show Americans are concerned about “campus speech controversies, athletic scandals, high dropout rates, sexual harassment and assault, comparatively generous pay for faculty and administrators and complaints about the competence of graduates,” he writes.

Vast divide between Republicans and Democrats on reasons behind negative views of higher education

In a Pew Research Center survey released July 26, 61 percent said higher education is going in the wrong direction. That includes 73 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats.

Among those dissatisfied with higher education, 84 percent cite college costs and 65 percent say students aren’t learning the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. In addition, 54 percent believe colleges and universities are too concerned about protecting students from views they might find offensive  and half say professors bring their political and social views into the classroom. Republicans and Democrats are far apart on the last issues.

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