George Mason Law School

New study: Americans feel colleges care more about bottom line

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February 17, 2010

4:28 PM

A new study from the Public Agenda and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, two non-profit research organizations, indicates that more Americans than ever before measured believe the nation’s colleges and universities operate more like businesses than schools and are focused more on “the bottom line” than educational quality.

The study found that 60 percent of Americans view higher education cynically, up 5 percent from last year and 8 percent from 2007.

“Together with other recent trends, these findings suggests that many Americans are becoming more skeptical about whether colleges and universities are doing all that they can to control costs and keep tuition affordable,” the study states. “It may also indicate that Americans will be increasingly less receptive to the argument that higher education institutions need more money to continue to provide high quality services.”

Despite this, 64 percent felt universities should use federal stimulus money to hold down the cost of tuition — even at the expense of operations and other programs. Furthermore, 55 percent said they feel a college education is key to success, up from 31 percent in 2000.

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