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America Speaks: Higher Ed Must Change

The general consensus among Americans is that the U.S. government should spend more on funding for higher education costs.

Elizabeth Hoyt

November 29, 2012

America Speaks: Higher Ed Must Change
According to a new survey, most Americans think higher education is still highly valued, but needs to change to compete in the global marketplace. In fact, 83 percent thought that a college education is necessary to achieving success in the global economy. In reference to their opinions of the nation as a whole, 46 percent consider the state of higher education to be “fair” or “poor,” yet still essential to achieving the “American dream,” which the survey worded as “the opportunity to go as far beyond your talents as hard work will take you and to live better than your parents.”

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The survey was commissioned by Northeastern University and was conducted by FTI Consulting. More than 1,000 Americans were surveyed by telephone, as well as 250 people between the ages of 18-30 via the Internet. The poll included both Americans who had and had not attended college. Nine out of 10 people, roughly around 86 percent, of people polled said cost is the major factor stopping them from obtaining a college degree or accessibility to college. The numbers show, without a doubt, that many young people desire a college education that simply cannot afford the high cost and see it as an overwhelming obstacle.

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That being said, 75 percent of young people said they’d be willing to attend a college with a “no-frills” philosophy—that skips the athletics and dormitories–and sticks to an education. A comparable number, around three-quarters of younger people, said they’d be willing to trade a couple years of public service work for tuition cuts. Are you taking notes, local government? The survey also found that eighty percent of Americans–regardless of political affiliation–believe that the United States government should spend more on funding for higher education costs. Those polled included college-aged Americans, who expressed that, while they are proud of the colleges within the United States, they do believe that, in order for the United States to remain competitive in higher education globally, something must change. Government funding, the higher education system’s organization and maintaining America’s economic rankings were among the suggestions of what could be changed.

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The poll found that the majority of Americans believe the value of online degrees is growing, but to-date still isn't believed to be considered as valuable as the traditional type. 68 percent of people polled between the ages of 18 and 30, however, believe that an online degree will be equally accepted within the next five to seven years. There seem to be clear-cut common themes throughout the survey that can be extrapolated. It’s quite apparent that Americans support the higher education system as a whole and are proud of the many established colleges throughout the United States. It also seems to be a common thread that the majority of those polled believe in the value of innovation, concern for and the necessity of change in direction within the U.S. higher education system in order to compete within the global marketplace.
Do you agree with the survey results?

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