The latest decline in the public’s trust in higher education is from a June 1-22 Gallup poll that also found confidence in 16 other institutions has been waning in recent years. Many of these entities, which are tracked more often than higher education, are now also at or near their lowest points in confidence. Although diminished, higher education ranks fourth in confidence among the 17 institutions measured, with small business, the military and the police in the top three spots. This was also the case in 2018, the last time higher education was included in the list of institutions.
All Major Subgroups, Led by Republicans, Less Confident in Higher Ed
In 2015, majorities of Americans in all key subgroups expressed confidence in higher education, with one exception — independents (48%). By 2018, though, confidence had fallen across all groups, with the largest drop, 17 percentage points, among Republicans. In the latest measure, confidence once again fell across the board, but Republicans’ sank the most — 20 points to 19%, the lowest of any group. Confidence among adults without a college degree and those aged 55 and older dropped nearly as much as Republicans’ since 2018.
Even though all subgroups show declining confidence in higher education, significant gaps persist among political, educational, gender and age subgroups. Notably, the only key subgroup with majority-level confidence in higher education is Democrats (59%).