Do we fix academic issues with plasters, or surgery?

Plagiarism is the current curse of higher education. For those stuck in the dark ages, it is “the act of taking another person’s ideas, words, or writing, and presenting them as your own.” Those who do plagiarise, justify their actions by saying that it’s somewhat of a victimless crime. The person whose work is being plagiarised is not getting the credit for what they have created, fair enough, but most of the time, they don’t know they have been plagiarised, so what does it matter?
Oxford University states that, “Plagiarism is a breach of academic integrity. It is a principle of intellectual honesty that all members of the academic community should acknowledge their debt to the originators of the ideas, words, and data which form the basis for their own work.” So, the best the academic world can do is say, ‘should!’ Personally, I don’t think it’s strong enough, but whereas Oxford’s concern is for the original creators, mine is for those who use plagiarism, the students.
Academia, to some extent, doesn’t help itself, by saying, “you can paraphrase, that’s okay,” but the reality is that the time spent effectively paraphrasing would be better spent developing one’s own original thoughts and writing them up (or down). Paraphrasing is merely re-writing someone else’s thoughts and words, so how does that help you develop yours. So, in this case, academia is making a rod for its own back.
The remedies, if we listen to educational authorities worldwide are to do what has already been identified as ineffective, paraphrasing, citing, referencing, quoting correctly, and understanding the effects of, and the penalties for, plagiarism. The reality is that someone who plagiarises, doesn’t do it as a first resort, but as their last, and can be likened to telling a man dying of thirst in the desert that only bottled water is healthy, and well water may not be.
The truth about plagiarism is that it’s a refuge. To some extent, it’s a place for students to go when they have not managed their time or studies well, or it’s a place they go when the pressure to perform from well-meaning family and friends becomes too much to handle.
Lack of academic experience, laziness, poor time management, they are not reasons for plagiarism, they are excuses. And it’s maddening too that for most, their work, their thoughts, and their words, are certainly good enough, but they don’t have the confidence to put them on the page and trust them!
Mostly however, it’s a reaction to a genuine lack of any form of interest, enthusiasm, passion, liking, or love for their subjects. In that, the educational framework of this wonderful country, with its wonderful facilities, community foundations, and all its good intentions, is failing its youth.
Pupils and students must surely have identified pathways, that are dependent not on average marks, but subject specific excellence, with high achievers taking elite pathways to medicine, healthcare, engineering and education. Vocational excellence should also be identified, and their path charted for agricultural, mechanical, and food technology skilled individuals, while entrepreneurs too should have dedicated avenues of progression. This would require educational programmes to identify skills, knowledge and understanding, and the people to manage them effectively, but wouldn’t that be better than perpetual pseudo-academia?
I’ll never forget that a student, many years ago, plagiarised an assignment. Exercising my discretion, I offered her half the available marks if she sent me a hundred words of her own on the topic by 4 pm that day. The result was astounding, as the student revealed her own thoughts on paper so well, I wished I had written them. That student never looked back! So, sticking plasters or surgery?