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Confidence in higher education drops sharply, particularly among Republicans

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The confidence of Americans in public education to take the country in a positive direction has seen a sharp decline in recent years. The level of confidence in public education has fallen by 14 percentage points since 2020.

According to a survey conducted by New America in 2020, 64% of students said they were having a positive experience in further education. A mere two years later, only half of the students in further education said their experience was positive or worthwhile.

As reported by The Washington Free Beacon, the survey showed that students who identified as Democrats say further education in a better light than those who are Republican. Close to 75% of Democrat students said further education renders positive contributions to both students and society, whilst only 37% of Republicans held this view.

The perception of online learning did see some improvement in 2021. Close to 50% of Americans believed that online learning was just as effective as in-class learning, this is a jump of nearly a third. 17% of current students said that on-line teaching was superior to in-class learning, while 6% of non-students held that view.

“I expected some shift, but I didn’t expect this substantial increase,” said Sophie Nguyen, who is an analyst for New America and a co-author of this survey. Nguyen was referring to the adaption of students and institutions to both online and hybrid learning during the Covid restrictions.

8 in 10 Americans did say that despite the marked improvements in online learning, it should cost less than a course that is in person.

The survey found that students were largely worried about financing education. Only half of the survey’s respondents felt that they could afford a good quality education after graduating from high school. Older students (boomers) were less worried about the cost with nearly two-thirds of them saying they were confident in being able to afford a degree. This number is higher than millennials and Generation X students who were tied at 45%.

The majority of all students who took the poll believed that the burden of education costs should be on the government.

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