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Republicans and Democrats Both Agree Colleges Are Going In The Wrong Direction, They Just Disagree On Why

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Neetu Chandak Education and Politics Reporter

Republicans and Democrats both agree colleges are going in the wrong direction, they just disagree on why they are going wrong.

Democrats place more emphasis on expensive tuition while Republicans are more worried about the political climate, according to a study released Thursday. Pew Research Center conducted the study between June 19 and July 2 and found six-in-ten Americans were not pleased with the higher education system, with Republicans (73 percent) holding more disdain over the system than Democrats (52 percent).

Both political parties believed the cost of tuition was too expensive and students were not receiving relevant skills to succeed in the workforce. They were worlds apart, however, when it came to free speech and political issues in the classrooms.

Republicans and those leaning right were more likely than Democrats and those leaning left to believe universities were concerned about shielding students from opinions viewed as offensive. Three-quarter of Republicans cited this as an issue while 31 percent of Democrats were worried.

Republicans also held more cynical views of professors than their Democratic counterparts, with 79 percent believing professors were bringing their political and social views into the classroom while only 17 percent of Democrats were concerned about this issue.

Within the Republican and right-leaning sects, those between 18- to 34-years-old were more concerned about tuition expenses while those above the age of 35 were concerned about the latter. (RELATED: Majority Of Republicans Think Higher Education Is Bad For America)

A third of Democrats who were 65 and older were more concerned about professors bringing in political and social views into the classroom, “compared with 15% of those ages 50 to 64, 10% of those 35 to 49 and 18% of those 18 to 34,” Pew reported.

The study, however, found Republican and Democratic respondents were in close agreement about protecting free speech in higher education. Ninety percent of Republicans and 86 percent of Democrats said it was important to allow people to speak freely.

When it came to colleges going in the right direction, 58 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats wanted colleges to focus on applicable skills. Only 28 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats believed college should help with personal growth.

Pew had an 84 percent response rate with 4,587 responses. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.4 percentage points with a 95-percent confidence level.

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