Public Holds Mixed Views of Higher Ed

May 16, 2011

A majority of Americans (57 percent) believe that the higher education system in the country fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend, according to a survey released Sunday by the Pew Research Center. Three-quarters of those polled said that college is too expensive for most Americans. But among Americans who are college graduates, 86 percent said that college had been a good investment for them personally. Pew also released a survey, in conjunction with The Chronicle of Higher Education, of college presidents. (Inside Higher Ed released a survey of college presidents in March.)

The Pew survey is the latest to find public ambivalence about higher education -- with majorities seeing the importance of a college education, but much skepticism about college pricing and access. A survey by Public Agenda and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education last year found that a majority of Americans believe that colleges mainly care about their own bottom lines instead of making sure that students have a good educational experience. But the survey also found that a majority of Americans believe a college education is essential for success.

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