Poll shows most Republicans say colleges hurt America
NEW YORK» America’s colleges are harming the country, the majority of Republicans now say. It’s a strong downward slide in public opinion that, some experts fear, could exacerbate growing divides among Americans and lead to higher levels of student debt.
The conclusion, from a report this week by the Pew Research Center in Washington, based on a June survey of 2,504 adults, reflects a reversal from just two years ago, when 54 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning Americans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country.
Now, 58 percent say the opposite: that higher education institutions are having a negative impact on the U.S. In 2015, only 37 percent of Republicans said that.
It’s first time a majority of Republicans has said colleges are hurting the U.S. since Pew began asking the question in 2010. Just 36 percent of Republicans say colleges are benefiting the country.
These findings come as protests and free-speech debates have been roiling campuses nationwide in the past few years, sparking criticism from Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump, who this year threatened to strip one university of its federal funding.
Donald Moynihan, a professor of public affairs at the University of Wisconsin, said he worries that Republican-dominated legislatures could act on their low regard for public colleges and universities by slashing funding.
Pew spokeswoman Bridget Johnson said the report’s authors couldn’t speculate on why Republicans’ views had shifted so dramatically in just two years.