Just another anecdote from the trenches, in case you still don't believe me... A colleague, by coincidence, mentioned today that he currently has a first year undergraduate student studying maths for science, that is unable to solve quadratic equations. No formula, no completing the square, no factorization, nothing. Apparently this student is even unable to solve a simple equation that reads x^2 = a^2. Just for your benefit, I'm making enquiries as to the exact make up of this student's A levels, although it is almost inevitable that they will be straight As, just by virtue of where this student is studying. Whether this includes maths or further maths specifically, though, is still to be established. I'll report back when I know more.