A study completed by Pew Research Center found that 61% of Americans think higher education is on the wrong track.
Higher education is headed in the wrong direction, according to the majority of Americans who responded to a recent survey. But the individuals surveyed have differing ideas of what the “right direction” is. And these opinions depend not only on an individual’s political leanings but also on what age bracket they fall in.
The study from Pew Research Center showed that 61 percent of respondents think higher ed is on the wrong track – and according to 73 percent of Republican-leaning individuals and 52 percent of Democrat-leaning respondents.
Younger Democrats tend to hold a more negative viewpoint of higher education. Sixty-one percent of Democrats from the ages of 18 to 34 see a lot of problems in higher education, as opposed to 50 percent of Democrats over the age of 65.
Even Democrats and Republicans who agree higher education is on the wrong track disagree about what the causes of those problems are. More than 75 percent of Republicans believe that college professors bring too many of their own political views into the classroom, while 75 percent blame political correctness and an attempt to shield students from viewpoints they might find offensive.
However, these ideas are held more strongly by older Republicans. Ninety-six percent of Republicans over the age of 65 blame professors as opposed to 58 percent of Republicans from the ages of 18 to 34.
High tuition costs are also causing the problems in higher education, according to 84 percent of respondents. This belief tends to be held more strongly by Democrats; 92 percent cited this as a major factor as opposed to 77 percent of Republicans.
Meanwhile, 65 percent of Americans believe that colleges don’t teach valuable skills students needed to succeed in the workforce. This viewpoint is favored by 73 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Democrats.
The survey also touched on free speech, which was the one issue where Republicans and Democrats appeared to be on the same page. When asked whether or not unpleasant displays of free speech should be allowed on campus, 91 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of Democrats said all students should be allowed to speak freely on campus.
This yearly survey included 4,587 participants and was conducted from June 19 to July 2.
Although the survey highlighted how people diverge on the topic of higher education – it also revealed some common ground. The issues of getting an affordable college education that actually prepares students for success appear to be something more people can agree on regardless of political affiliation.