Last I checked, showing a degree was only proof that one had enough thought-power to do a list of tasks EXACTLY how one was asked, consistantly, over a long period of time. This is something that "self-taught" people with no Uni degree have no proof (and sometimes ability) to be able to do.
Now, as one of those that fall into the "self-taught" category, I've gone through the motions of getting a paper to back up my skills. When asked why, I merely reply "so I have a piece of paper backing up that I know what I know." Yes, it was an utter waste of my time. I gleaned perhaps one concept in each class that I did not know already. With years of field experience, it was no surprise. Now, the quality of work put forth by other students was quite another matter. You could easily see the "self-taught" students vs. the "normal" students. Their work (programming code, etc) spoke for itself. Self-taught students' code was varying degrees of atrocious, however it worked, and it worked well. The "normal" students had "standard" formatting, but couldn't even figure out how to loop through an array, let alone complete the assignment. And this is in a second or third year class! I always dreaded the "group projects" and specifically associated with the self-taught crowd for the fact that I could rely on their horribly constructed code to actually work its magic and all I had to do was decypher their class interfaces, rather than write the whole project myself just to make it work.
The education system, even in the US, fails miserably. Perhaps these dim-witted politicians want their progeny to have the "advantage" of the college education they failed to receive, at the cost of the quality of that education. It reminds me of a certain situation in border states in the US that had to "dumb down" secondary school exit exams just so more students could pass them.