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Americans’ confidence in higher ed continues to plummet: Gallup poll

Americans’ confidence in higher education continues to take a nosedive year over year, according to the latest Gallup poll results.

Only 36 percent of those polled this year said they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in higher education. The results are based on random-sample telephone interviews conducted June 1 through June 22 of about 1,000 adults across America.

Comparatively, in 2015, 57 percent of Americans said they had confidence in higher education, and in 2018, 48 percent said they did, previous surveys found.

The latest results represent a 21-percetage point drop in the confidence in higher education over the last eight years.

Gallup pointed out that across the board, Republicans, Democrats and Independents all voiced less confidence in higher ed this year, but Republicans’ confidence dropped the most.

“While Gallup did not probe for reasons behind the recent drop in confidence, the rising costs of postsecondary education likely play a significant role,” Gallup reported.

“There is a growing divide between Republicans’ and Democrats’ confidence in higher education. Previous Gallup polling found that Democrats expressed concern about the costs, while Republicans registered concern about politics in higher education.”

Democrats are the only subgroup with a majority reporting confidence in higher education in 2023 at 59 percent; independents came in at 32 percent — and only 19 percent of Republicans said they have confidence.

The Republican confidence in higher education has gone off the cliff in the last eight years — their confidence was at 56 percent in 2015, according to Gallup.

Inside Higher Ed, reporting on the results of the survey, pointed out that experts warn those in higher ed to heed the poll results because it’s not just Republicans who have less confidence in higher ed — all political stripes do.

However, they also pointed out Americans’ confidence in all institutions has dropped, so higher ed is no outlier.

MORE: Gallup poll finds declining trust in public schools

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.