Americans Value Higher Education But Question Its Quality, National Survey Finds

Americans overwhelmingly view a higher education as essential to landing a good job and achieving financial security, but they have doubts about its quality and affordability, according to a new report from the Lumina Foundation and Gallup.

They also favor changes in higher education that would make obtaining a degree more realistic for working adults. A majority of respondents to a survey underlying the report said they supported the awarding of credit for prior learning and skills acquired outside the classroom. Three-quarters, meanwhile, said that they would be more likely to enroll in college if they could receive credit for what they already knew.

"The demand for postsecondary education is as high or higher than it's ever been," said Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education, which conducted the survey. But civic and economic demands are driving more Americans to view higher education through a pragmatic, job-focused lens, he said. "They're asking for something very different from what we've done in the past."

The report, "America's Call for Higher Education Redesign," was released on Tuesday and is based on more than 1,000 interviews that Gallup researchers conducted in November and December 2012 on behalf of Lumina.

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