Americans: Higher Education Moving in the Wrong Direction

 Alexa Lardieri

ABOUT SIX IN 10 Americans believe that higher education is moving in the wrong direction, according to a new Pew Research Center study. However, opinions vary along party lines and among generations.

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to disapprove of the direction higher education is going, with almost three-quarters (73 percent) of people in the party believing the institution is headed in the wrong direction. Democrats are more evenly split. A little more than half (52 percent) say higher education is moving in the wrong direction, compared to 46 percent who say it is moving in the right direction.

However, there is a split even within the Democratic Party. Sixty-one percent of younger Democrats, those aged 18 to 34, believe higher education is moving in the wrong direction, compared to 54 percent of Democrats aged 35 to 49, 48 percent of Democrats aged 50 to 64 and 40 percent of Democrats aged 65 and older.

Opinions about the direction of higher education are about the same among all age groups of Republicans, according to the survey. However, the reasons they believe education is moving in the wrong direction differ among the generations.

Most Republicans aged 18 to 49 said higher education is moving in the wrong direction because tuition costs are too high. Most Republicans aged 50 and older said it is because professors are bringing their political and social views into the classrooms.

Furthermore, Republicans' reasons differ from those of Democrats. Juliana Menasce Horowitz, an associate director of research at Pew Research Center said Republicans were more likely than Democrats to offer "more negative assessments of the impact of colleges and universities as well as more negative views of college professors."

Democrats' top two reasons for concern include tuition costs being too high (92 percent) and students not getting the skills they need to succeed in the workplace (56 percent). While 77 percent of Republicans believe tuition costs are too high and 73 percent believe students aren't receiving the skills they need, Republicans also worry that there is too much concern about protecting students from views they may find offensive (75 percent compared to Democrats' 31 percent) and they worry about professors bringing their personal beliefs into the classroom (79 percent compared to Democrats' 17 percent).

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Alexa Lardieri
11 October, 2018
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