This may be a long, slow change. Schools are kind of all over the place on this issue. Most worry a great deal about their brand and the value of their degrees; many consider that maintaining valuable degrees means limiting outside credit opportunities (or at least striking a balance between convenience for incoming students and exclusivity).
A few schools are quite generous in how many credits they accept, in part due to an ethos of making degree programs accessible to all students but also in part because of a commitment to competency-based education as opposed to “seat time” and the traditional credit hour. These schools will grant a lot of credits for non-traditional academic work in part because they see credits as perhaps archaic but still the lingua franca of higher education credentials; the important thing is that incoming students already have knowledge and skills that ought to be counted toward a degree.
The latter kind of schools are still mostly in the minority. Sometimes I worry that competency based education, a good idea IMO (if not the only good idea and if imperfect as most everything else also is) will end up with a bad rap by schools and policy-makers who think that these schools are too free with credit recognition.
I think your business point is correct and I wonder why many schools that are in financial straits do not give it greater consideration:
To be sure, in the worst cases, some schools can and do enroll a ton of people, take money from them and from lending agencies (including the federal government), and give many students little of value in return.
But schools also have a completion problem – not enough students graduate or students take too long to graduate. This hurts schools’ reputation and standing – it harms their brand. Enrolling more on-campus students is implausible without huge, debt-financed capital investments. Online programs are not always that cheap and are hard to implement well. What to do?
Moving more students through the degree pipeline while reducing the time spent on campus by each individual student is certainly one option. This time is reduced both because many students will arrive with a few semesters of existing credit and also because the school can implement hybrid online and other “non-traditional” credit pathways that are both more flexible and less inherently risky than spinning up a full-fledged online-only program. From the institutions’ perspectives, they work toward better completion rates for more students and stable or reduced total tuition costs. Done well, the brand is protected and even expanded if more happy alumni stamp a school’s name on all their resumes (and maybe even send donations back to their alma mater).
I’ve glossed over a lot of details and, being a non-expert, I’m sure much of what I wrote above is subject to critique. In short, though, I think there is a win-win situation for students and schools, and that some schools are doing exciting things that deserve to get noticed – and copied – by other schools.