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Gallup Survey Finds Declining Confidence in Higher Education

Americans are nearly equally divided among those who have high levels of confidence (36%), some confidence (32%), or little or no confidence (32%) in higher education, according to the Lumina-Gallup survey conducted June 3-23. But a decade ago, in 2015, Gallup found that most respondents (57%) had high confidence in higher education, while 10% had little or none.

Nearly all of those who have little, or no confidence (94%) said that higher education is headed in the wrong direction; the sentiment was shared by 81% of those who have some confidence and 30% of those with high levels of confidence.

The survey found that, while the percentage of Americans who express high levels of confidence in higher education stabilized this year after significant drops in the previous two measurements, there has been shifting, with fewer having mixed views and more expressing little or no confidence in it.

It noted that the story is largely a political one, with relatively few Republicans expressing confidence in colleges and universities — now 20% of Republican are confident and 50% have little or no confidence, compared to 56% of Republicans with high confidence, and 11% with little or none in 2015. This, the survey concludes, is primarily because Republican respondents feel colleges are pushing liberal political agendas on students. To the extent these views are held by parents and young adults, it could lead to drops in college applications and enrollment.

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