On Tuesday, a new Gallup poll suggested that Americans across all demographic groups are less confident in the institution of higher education than they were several years ago.
According to Axios, the Gallup survey in question shows that just 36 percent of Americans report having confidence in colleges and universities. In 2018, that number stood at 48 percent, which itself was a drop from 57 percent in 2015.
Back in 2015, over half of all Democrats and Republicans alike reported “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in higher education, with 48 percent of independents saying the same. But by 2018, confidence levels had dropped to less than half of all Republicans and independents; meanwhile, Democrats’ trust in the institution remained high, at 62 percent.
In 2023, Republicans fell to a mere 19 percent confidence level in higher education, with independents down to 32 percent. Democrats’ confidence fell slightly to 59 percent. As a result, Democrats are now “the only key subgroup with majority-level confidence in higher education,” said Gallup’s Megan Brenan, a research consultant.
Even Americans with postgraduate degrees are less likely to express confidence in the institution, with 47 percent of respondents with college degrees saying so. Conversely, just 29 percent of people with no college education expressed confidence in colleges as an institution; that percentage marks a 25-point drop from the previous total in 2015.
The decline in confidence in higher education reflects a broader, ongoing trend of Americans losing faith in most major institutions across the country. Out of 17 major institutions included in Gallup’s surveys, higher education was ranked as the fourth-highest in terms of trust among the American people. The top three institutions were small businesses, the U.S. military, and the police.