I think there are competing interests in higher education, and we might be ignoring the contradictions it creates. We model the university as a machine that puts courses into students, usually including a per-course score. It is arbitrary how those courses are divided, otherwise schools on a trimester system or something more unique would create a world of confusion. More confusion comes with the scores, where some schools aren't on a 4.0 scale. From this angle, schools want to produce as many high scores as possible, and the want those scores to be meaningful. The contradiction comes from the university as a whole, getting paid per course and only assigning real value after enough has been paid. Just try obtaining a broadly respected degree using credits mostly obtained from another source! We have granted a monopoly on verifying knowledge to the same institutions that also sell that knowledge. Is it any mystery why phrases like "well-rounded" and "comprehensive" are used so frequently? SO, if roles were reversed, and we could evaluate someone's knowledge without relying on the institution that sold them the knowledge, would universities even make sense? Imagine that MIT went into the business of verifying knowledge obtained elsewhere, and of course they would still try to say the knowledge they sell themselves is better. If MIT wants to give away the knowledge for free in any sized chunks, I don't care. The real issue is that there is nobody verifying knowledge independently, except fly-by-night degree mills that also charge money.