The College Post
The College Post -- Covering Higher Education in America

Americans Divided Over Colleges Bringing Students Back to Campus

Half of US adults believe that colleges and universities made the right decision in bringing students back to campus while 48 percent do not, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.

The majority of those supporting a return are Republican (74 percent), while a majority of Democrats (68 percent) oppose the decision. This partisan divide occurs amid a continuing struggle to manage the pandemic at schools across the country.

The poll also found that 74 percent of Republicans believe that schools are justified in providing in-person instruction while only 29 percent of Democrats share this view. 

This gap is a reflection of a wider difference of opinion regarding the coronavirus, with the Center further revealing how Republicans and Democrats have opposing views on the public health crisis, restrictions on businesses, and mask-wearing.

Online Learning

The Pew Research Center also found that most Americans are skeptical that distance learning has the same value as in-person instruction. Only 30 percent of adults say that an online course has equal value to a course delivered in a classroom, with 68 percent saying that it does not.

A majority of people from both parties expressed this opinion, though Democrats are somewhat more likely than Republicans to say online classes provide equal value (33 versus 26 percent).

Online learning has become much more prevalent this year than in previous years as a way to maintain education throughout the pandemic.

Out of more than 3,000 colleges, 301 have gone fully online, 1,001 are primarily online, and 622 have taken a mixed approach to the fall semester, according to the College Crisis Initiative (C2i) Dashboard by Davidson College.