Australians view universities as crucial in solving world issues, a new global survey reveals.
About four in five (78%) of Australian respondents agree that higher education institutions play an important role in addressing key challenges the world is facing, according to an international survey conducted by The Policy Institute at King’s College London and research firm Ipsos MORI.
Almost two-thirds or 64% also recognise the positive impact universities have on the country, with 43% saying universities help reduce inequality in Australia.
The results come as university researchers worldwide continue to make vital contributions in response to the coronavirus crisis while the higher education sector remains under significant strain due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.
“A global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of universities who are at the cutting edge of research and who add significant value to their countries, both economically and socially,” said David Elliott, Ipsos Australian Director of Public Affairs.
“But there is a more mixed view of whether people think going to university is worth it compared to the expense of doing so, and whether going to university has any impact on future earning potential,” he said.
The survey found that less than half or 49% of Australians believe that the benefits of going to university outweigh the expenses, indicating the public’s less favourable view of the value of higher education.
More than half or 52% of respondents think universities do not equip graduates with the skills necessary to have a successful career, twice as much as those who believe they are helpful.
Fifty-five percent also think that a university degree does not lead to a higher salary, while 62% believe the value of a degree has declined in the past 10 years.
However, 45% of respondents say universities have had a positive impact on them personally, compared to 20% of those who admit the effect was generally negative. More than half or 52% felt universities were beneficial to their families and friends while 55% saw the positive impact on their local communities.