Summary of Findings
Part I: Areas of Consensus
Part II: Areas of Disagreement
Supporting Tables
About the Author
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About Public Agenda

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Taking Responsibility
Page 2 of 12

Summary of Findings

Finding One: Leaders responding to the survey believe a strong higher education system is vitally important to the well-being of American society.

Finding Two: Most leaders think America has the best higher education system in the world.

Finding Three: An overwhelming majority of leaders believe it is essential to insure that higher education is accessible to every qualified and motivated student.

Finding Four: But leaders are convinced that today the vast majority of qualified and motivated students can get a college education if they want one.

Finding Five: Most leaders believe that lack of student motivation and responsibility is a more important obstacle to getting a higher education than is lack of money.

Finding Six: The most serious problem facing higher education, according to leaders responding to our survey, is that too many students are not sufficiently prepared academically to receive a higher education.

Finding Seven: Business leaders and academics disagree about how well colleges and systems of higher education are operated.

Finding Eight: Although leaders across sectors agree that students need to learn thinking and communication skills, business leaders disagree with educators about the performance of higher education in teaching students what they need to know, and also about the importance of other goals such as training students in the humanities.

Finding Nine: Business executives want higher education to cut costs and students to pay more before coming to government for more funding. Other leaders see government as the first line of support.

Finding Ten: Business executives want professors to teach more, focus more on research that is relevant to society, and rely more on technology.

Finding Eleven: The institution of tenure makes more sense to those who have it than to anyone else.

Finding Twelve: When it comes to racial balance in the nation's colleges, business leaders are more apt to say things should evolve naturally; the other three leadership groups prefer a more proactive approach. Very few in any group favor quotas.


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