Why survey finds higher ed headed in wrong direction
Americans believe colleges and universities are headed in the wrong direction but not because of the recent coronavirus disruptions, according to a survey by Populace, a think tank focused on access and opportunity.
Some 52% of the more than 2,000 students, graduates and parents said higher education is misguided, while only 33% felt a degree was needed to join the middle class, the survey found.
The goal of the survey was “to ensure the public has a voice in what higher education evolves to look like, offer, become,” the authors of the report wrote.
One of the leading causes for the discontent was a belief, cited by 67% of respondents, that colleges and universities put their own interests ahead of students’ needs. Only 9% of those surveyed said schools prioritize students’ interests.
More from UB: ‘Naming and shaming’ not swaying students on tuition
As far as enrollment, 50% of the college graduates surveyed said their primary reason for attending college was to improve their job prospects.
Only 15% said they enrolled to learn more about an academic subject.
However, only 27% said a degree was needed to achieve the American dream.
Among Americans who chose not to enroll in college, 40% said they didn’t go because they couldn’t afford it. However, only a quarter of the respondents supported free college as a way of reforming higher education.
Respondents were also evenly split on the fairness of using the SAT or ACT test for college acceptance.
Meanwhile, 62% of respondents said their opinions of colleges and universities had not been changed by higher ed’s response to the coronavirus. Still, 42% believe the quality of the college experience decline when campuses reopen for the fall semester.