Ceteris paribus, if politicians, as they have, unilaterally decide to increase the percentage of 'educated' in a population there are two basic drivers to do so: (1) lower the standards (i.e., "lower the bar"), or (2) improve the education. Clearly, standards have been dropped where we now have results where around half or more learn virtually nothing of note as undergraduates (e.g., the book entitled "Academically Adrift"), and many seem to specialize in academic credential arbitrage (actually all types of arbitrage). I have been teaching a business based subject for the last six years (after working for more than two decades in the field) and can attest that critical reasoning is almost absent from the room. Given what I have seen and know to be true the line of causation seems to run more from government increasing output via fiat (i.e., a higher percentage of 'higher educated' desired) to schools dropping standards to students gaming the various loopholes built into the system that has evolved. Yes, low motivation is very real, but I would emphasize that it is being driven through various channels but beginning with government centralized goals.
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