Angst About Higher Education Bipartisan

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

A surprising number of views held by political conservatives about higher education are shared by people who don’t share their philosophy, or at least their party label. “The new Pew Research Center survey of several thousand Americans is therefore particularly sobering for advocates of greater spending on our colleges and universities,” economist Richard Vedder writes. “Some 61% of those polled thought that America’s universities were ‘going in the wrong direction’—a very solid majority.”

“While much has been made of differences between people of different political persuasions, on this critical question the similarities were more striking than the differences. Some 73% percent of Republicans or those leaning Republican felt higher education was going in the wrong direction, compared to ‘only’ 52% of Democrats. Similarly, 73% of Republicans felt students are not getting the skills needed to succeed while in college, compared with ‘only’ 56% of Democrats.”

“While Democrats were less negative about colleges than Republicans, a majority still showed major concerns. For example, Democrats were very strongly (92%) worried about what they perceive to be excessive tuition fees, a concern held by ‘only’ 77% of Republicans. Republicans were more worried that colleges were too concerned about protecting students from hearing views that they might find offensive, but even 31% of Democrats had that fear as well.”