Americans Concerned About Political Bias in Higher Education

A large majority (88%) of Americans believe universities should focus on teaching students to think for themselves and job preparation, rather than promote social activism.

  • This view is also strong when comparing the goal of promoting patriotism.

WHY IT MATTERS – Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action and controversy over Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies have Americans taking a closer look at the quality of education being provided by American universities.

HOW TO USE THIS DATA – Candidates and activists can use the results to understand what sentiments are shared by most voters regarding political bias at American universities.  

Click on the image below to read the full report…or read the summary below.

Perceptions of Professors’ Ideology:

  • 43% of voters say that university professors and administrators are more liberal than the average American. Fewer than 2-in-10 say they are more moderate or conservative. 
  • Republicans (60%), Baby Boomers (52%) and men (51%) are the most likely to say university professors and administrators are more liberal.
  • Blacks (18%) are the least likely to say university professors are more liberal than most Americans. They are more likely to say professors are “more moderate” or “about the same” than “more conservative.”
  • No group of voters had a plurality that said university professors and administrators were more conservative than most Americans.
  • Interestingly, college graduates were more likely than those who do not have four-year degrees to say that university professors and administrators are more liberal than most Americans.

Concerns About Professors’ Political Agenda:  

  • 61% say they are concerned about university professors imposing their own personal beliefs on students, including 33% who are strongly concerned.
  • There are stark differences by party, with large majorities of Republicans (83%) concerned but most Democrats (53%) not concerned.
  • While most independents (57%) say they are concerned, more say they are somewhat concerned (30%) than very concerned (27%).
  • Men (70%) are far more concerned than women (52%).
  • Those without bachelor’s degrees (64%) are more concerned than those with bachelor’s degrees (54%) or postgraduate degrees (50%).
  • Concern among New Majority voters (70%-24%) is a near mirror-image of Left Minority voters (29%-68%). However, New Majority voters who are planning to vote Democrat in 2024 are evenly split (48%-45%).  

Recording Classes:

  • 57% support a law that requires universities to allow students to record their classes so they could prove if their professors are trying to push their beliefs on them.
  • While majorities of most demographic groups support the proposed law, support is much higher among Republicans (75%) and men (66%) than other groups.
  • There is a notable education divide. Those without four-year college degrees support the law (63%-22%), while those with post-graduate degrees oppose it (43%-47%).
  • New Majority voters support the proposed law (65%-21%) while Left Minority voters oppose it (34%-52%).

Where Voters Agree:   

  • Despite varying levels of concern over university bias, large majorities of voters (88%) say the goal of a university should be to teach students to think for themselves and prepare them for future jobs, not to encourage them to be social activists.
  • Similar percentages say the same when compared to encouraging students to be patriotic.