Office of Planning and Budgeting

Pew Survey of College Presidents Highlights Divergent Views from General Public

Along with its survey of the general public, the Pew Center recently published a survey of 1,055 two- and four-year, public, private and for-profit college presidents, concerning the quality, accessibility, and affordability of higher education. The two surveys were conducted around the same time and asked similar questions.  However, there were notable differences between the opinions of college presidents and the general public on key issues in higher education. On the whole, college presidents were less concerned about affordability and access, and more concerned with student and academic program quality. Some highlights of the data include:

  • 38 percent of college presidents think higher education is moving in the wrong direction, with only 7 percent believing the US system will be the best in the world in 2021
  • 42 percent of presidents believe college is affordable for most families (compared with 22 percent of the general population)
  • 17 percent of presidents believe students get excellent value for their money (only five percent of the general population agrees)
  • The majority (58 percent) of college presidents believe students come to college less qualified than their counterparts ten years ago, and only seven percent think current students study more than students ten years ago

Interestingly, leaders of for-profit schools were most likely to be pessimistic about the affordability and direction of higher education and student preparation. Conversely, presidents of the most selective schools were most optimistic about those factors. Furthermore, the majority of college presidents think it is unlikely that the nation will meet President Obama’s degree attainment goals by 2020. To find out more, check out the Chronicle’s analysis, our blog post on the general public survey or read the full Pew Center report here.


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