Today's Observer has a story on linguistically challenged students at Imperial College.
I always have mixed feelings when these stories hit the headlines. I feel really depressed at the thought that educational standards in the UK have sunk so low. At the same time, the editor in me feels glee that a new generation of illiterates will require professional help: yes, more work for me! I know it's wrong to see a business opportunity there, but overall I'd rather see primary school teachers knowing their own language better in order to drum the rules into their pupils.
On a related note, a student posted on a forum for journalists that I use, asking about routes into writing entertainment stories for magazines, having done a degree in broadcasting production. Her opening two sentences contained no punctuation whatsoever. Her follow-up post was even worse - spelling errors, poor punctuation, sentences running into each other, no sense of grammar... I politely pointed out that if she was serious about a career in writing, she needed to work on her written English. Many journalists use the forums, quite a few of whom may be in a position to commission others, so showing you can write properly is essential in such an environment.
Did the student thank me? Of course not. I got a tart reply along the lines of "I didn't come here for advice on spelling, but to find out what course I ought to do". That is one budding journalist who is unlikely to progress far. Serious wannabes who want to become hacks eagerly lap up advice even when not asked for, so keen are they to build a career. But I do worry for the next generation of journalists when the education system fails to teach them to write properly in their native language.