WASHINGTON, DC - While the economic benefits of obtaining a college degree cannot be denied, an increasing number of Americans are dissatisfied with higher education --- according to a new report by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
“We found that Republicans and Democrats both point to the rising cost of higher education,” said Kim Parker, Director of Social Trends at Pew and the author of the report.
She found while Republicans and Democrats think exploding tuitions are unacceptable, it is largely Republicans who make up the growing number of adults that believe colleges and universities are having a negative impact on the direction of the country.
“Republicans focus in on things about professors bringing their liberal views into the classroom or colleges being too concerned about protecting students from views that they might find offensive. Some of the issues that you’ve heard about with free speech on college campuses, those things seem to be really resonating with Republicans and making them feel more negatively about higher ed,” said Parker.
About four in ten Americans feel this way – that’s up from 26% in 2012.
In addition to political and social views of professors and worries about free speech, Republicans are concerned about a lack of skills based learning. The data shows the views of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic have remained overwhelmingly positive.
“We do know that young people today are more democratic and are more progressive, both in their partisanship and in their views on a variety of policy and social issues and that's something that I think absolutely is having an effect on the climate on college campuses,” said Parker.
There are areas of common ground. Most Americans say they value racial diversity on college campuses and understand a college education can be useful in opening doors to job opportunities.
“It's easier and more economically beneficial for people who have a college degree and we see a growing income gap between college graduates and non-college graduates. But still people with a bachelor's degree realize that the college degree alone isn't going to get you to where you need to be,” said Parker.