American Confidence in Higher Education Falls Sharply

Yale University / Twitter screenshot
July 11, 2023

American confidence in higher education has dropped dramatically over the past decade. Findings from a Gallup poll released Tuesday revealed that 36 percent of U.S. adults reported having "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in higher education, compared with 48 percent in 2018 and 57 percent in 2015.

Twenty-two percent of those surveyed expressed "very little" confidence in higher education, representing the second-largest group of respondents. This reflects a marked change from both 2015 and 2018, in which those reporting "very little" confidence were the smallest share of responses.

A plurality of respondents stated they have "some" confidence in higher education.

Confidence fell across the board, with only Democrats and those with postgraduate degrees retaining confidence at 50 percent or higher.

Only 19 percent of Republicans stated they had confidence in higher education, a decline of 20 points since 2018.

The shift in public opinion follows several recent high-profile incidents where left-wing campus activists have shut down conservative speakers.

In March, student protesters at Stanford Law School shouted down Judge Kyle Duncan at a Federalist Society event over his supposed animosity toward African Americans and transgender people, the Washington Free Beacon reported. In 2022, more than 100 students at Yale Law School disrupted a panel on civil liberties that featured conservative lawyer Kristen Waggoner, forcing campus police to escort the speakers to safety. Yale later barred the Free Beacon from covering a subsequent event with Waggoner on free speech.