I used to think that Julia Gillard was quite bright.
I'm starting to have second thoughts. She wants 40% of 25-34 year olds to have a Uni degree. The current proportion is 29%.
I used to employ a fresh batch of Uni graduates every year. They came from a variety of universities and backgrounds. Most were quite bright and hard working, but some were thick as two short planks and as lazy as a slug on a cold winters morning. I could never understand how they made it into a University in the first place, let alone managing to stay there and pass enough subjects to make it into our graduate program. They were anything but the brightest and best.
For that is how I view a University - as a place to nurture our brightest and best. The problem is, the supply of the brightest and best is limited. The supply is governed by many things, including genetics and upbringing and the school environment, and most of these factors are outside the control of government. You can't just increase the supply of the B&B by government fiat.
Sadly, many today seem to view Universities as nothing more than degree factories, as if the holding of a bit of partchment somehow makes you a smarter, more employable person - someone that can add to the productive capacity of the economy in a meaningful way.
Intelligence, and the ability to succeed, is one of those things that is not predicated on wealth. Bill Gates might end up having the dumbest, laziest kids on the planet. An Aboriginal kid with an alcoholic mum and an absent dad in a violent, dysfunctional backwater may be the next Einstein.
You can't simply create more brightest and best by adjusting a government target. All you do is turn graduate degrees into jokey, untrusted bits of paper.