Lack of public confidence in AI readiness an ‘opportunity’ for HE

Gallup-Northeastern University report analyses views on AI revolution from survey of 10,000 members of public across US, UK and Canada

June 29, 2019

The public are not looking to higher education to give them the skills needed for the artificial intelligence revolution, but a similar lack of confidence in other sectors offers a “clear opportunity” for university leaders, according to a report on a survey of 10,000 people in the US, UK and Canada.

The online survey – of around 4,000 members of the public in the US, plus 3,000 in the UK and 3,000 in Canada – finds that only 3 per cent in the US, 10 per cent in the UK, and 12 per cent in Canada “strongly agree” that universities in their countries are preparing graduates for success in the current workforce.

“In all three countries, no more than four in 10 workers have considered returning to [education] in response to AI,” says the report, written by polling company Gallup for Boston’s Northeastern University.

It adds: “In Canada (59 per cent), the US (70 per cent) and the UK (58 per cent), majorities of workers look to on-the-job training offered by an employer to provide the education and training to upskill.”

But on lifelong learning there was agreement that large businesses (71 per cent in the US, 62 per cent in Canada and 59 per cent in the UK) as well as government (78 per cent in the US, 71 per cent in the UK and 65 per cent in Canada) are also not responding adequately.

The report says in conclusion: “The primary barrier to these respondents seeing higher education as a source of new skills and education is cost. Additionally, concerns about academic programmes not keeping up with changing workplace needs also play a key role in why adults in these three countries are not looking to higher education for additional skills.”

It adds: “The current lack of confidence in institutions and the acceptance of the value of lifelong learning provides a clear opportunity for leaders in higher education. Partnering with governments and businesses to provide affordable, relevant, bite-sized, lifelong education to workers in all three countries could restore confidence, not just for higher education, but for the other institutions as well.”


Print headline: AI ‘opportunity’ for university leaders

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