A lot of people joke about the fact that you don't need to attend a lecture to pass a subject.
You can get a degree, albeit passes, when you don't even put much effort in.
You'd expect people that are diligent, studious and hardworking to be at university. It just isn't the case for a large portion.
What proportion of high school leavers went on to to get a university degree 40 years ago? What proportion of high school leavers go on to get a university degree today? That difference is the swing from trades to tertiary. Tailoring is a trade that will and has been the first to go - it isn't an essential trade.
The government has made it pretty clear. Australia's future lays in innovation, not manual skills. They want people to go to school for longer and get more qualifications.
In my year, some of the smartest individuals were the laziest mofos. The joke's on us. You don't have to be diligent, etc. to do well, unfortunately.
You presume that innovation requires a tertiary degree. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, it's universities that want "people to go to school for longer and [to] get more qualifications".
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