New polling shows that huge majorities of Americans agree with student activists on the nature of the contemporary university and the need for reform.

The poll, from the National Center for Public Policy and higher Education, shows that strong majorities of Americans believe that colleges are run too much like businesses, that they should be spending government money to keep tuition down, and that enrollment could be raised substantially without cutting educational quality.

On the subject of educational access, more than eighty percent believe that students are forced to borrow too much money for their studies, while less than thirty percent believe that all or nearly all “qualified, motivated students” get a chance to attend college.


  • Six in ten Americans believe that colleges, “like most businesses … care mainly about the bottom line.”
  • By the same token, only 32% say colleges “care mainly about education and making sure students have a good educational experience” — a twelve-point drop in just two years.
  • Sixty percent believe colleges could enroll “a lot more students” without cutting quality.
  • Sixty-four percent believe colleges and universities should use federal stimulus money to keep tuition and fees down. Only 25% disagree.
  • Only 29% believe that “the vast majority of qualified, motivated students” get the opportunity to go to college. Sixty-nine percent think that many qualified students are closed out.
  • A whopping 83% believe that students have to borrow too much money for college today, with 65% agreeing “strongly.”