Higher Education, What is it Good For?: Meeting Societally Expected Goals
Keywords:higher education, public opinion, higher education goal social expectations
The Florida College System, comprised of 28 members, is the primary access point to higher education for Floridians, including recent high school graduates and returning adult students. Florida Department of Education advertises its mission as providing access to high-quality, affordable academic and career educational programs that maximize student learning and success, develop a globally competitive workforce and respond rapidly to diverse state and community needs. Yet, the last two years in higher education have been riddled with challenges and change. The educational disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic has led to a plethora of investment in educational technologies for emergency remote learning with mixed emotions on their effectiveness. Various political discussions associated with free speech and accreditation requirements have made both educators and legislators question the level of institutional academic freedom. In these changing times, limited research exists that examines public perception on present day societally expected higher education goals and their associated perceptions of institutional achievement. This study gathered Florida voters’ perceptions on higher education. Research results illustrate that Floridians, like most Americans, believe statewide higher education serves the main purpose of transmitting career skills but believe the Florida College System to be only somewhat good at achieving that goal.