The more the public is exposed to what’s really happening on college campuses today, the less they like.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

Falling Confidence in Higher Ed

Just under half (48 percent) of American adults have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in higher education, according to an analysis being released today by Gallup.

That figure is down from 57 percent in 2015 and represents a larger than typical decline in confidence in an American institution in a relatively short time period, according to Gallup. (Note: Gallup conducts some surveys for Inside Higher Ed, but this publication played no role in the results being released today.)

The largest confidence drops were found among Republicans.

Gallup asks Americans about their confidence in a wide range of American institutions. And based on this year’s responses, higher education enjoys more confidence than do many other institutions (including the presidency, Congress, newspapers and public schools). Only the military, small business and police enjoy more confidence than does higher education.

Gallup noted that no other institution has seen as large a decline in confidence from 2015 to 2018. The next largest drop was for organized religion, which saw a four-percentage-point decrease, compared to the nine-point drop for higher education. On average, the institutions tracked by Gallup saw a one-point gain in confidence in the years for which the comparison was made.

Jeff Jones, a Gallup analyst, said higher education leaders “probably should be worried,” given that confidence levels can be reflected in decisions politicians or donors make about financial support for higher education. At the same time, he noted the underlying strength of higher education in that “going to college is going to advance people’s careers.”


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