Polling organization Gallup has released a report showing that public confidence in the US higher education sector has declined by 9%. Despite the fact that college enrolment continues to rise, since 2015 trust in higher education has decreased considerably, and in fact more so than for any other U.S. institution that Gallup measures in the US.
Much of the decline in US public trust in higher education can be mapped onto the noteworthy rise in the costs, or affordability, of higher education, and this is a problem that students and their families have discussed for some time now.
Drop in trust – caused by the drop in affordability?
The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that the combined cost of tuition, fees, and room and board increased by 28% between 2005-06 and 2015-16, and that is after accounting for inflation. Students and graduates taking on the majority of the debt in this higher-cost paradigm are less likely than other graduates to believe their degree was worth the cost, a perception evident in the data.
If higher education in the US wants to maintain enrolments and relevance in society, student debt will need to be a more prominent issue on its radar.