A Canadian reader of this blog kindly send a link to this depressing article on the effects of the drive to push ever more and more students through some kind of university education. It has the ring of truth.
Though the effects, I hasten to add, don’t really apply so much here in Cambridge where we can be exceedingly picky about those we admit, and a decent number of our undergraduates are still very clever, very committed, and very hard working. Though my sense is that at least some serious departments here, like mathematics, keep up the old standards by taking increasing numbers of undergraduates from abroad, casting the net ever wider. (Hardly a surprise that they can’t get enough suitably qualified homegrown students when maths teaching in the English state education system is in a terrible state. For more depressing reading, see this report about UK maths here.)