OK, flexibility. I'll give some, but only to a degree. Because the requirements, worldwide, are not that far apart in "most cases." There are "standards." I didn't make them up. AIkido has them. They're in place. I'm totally up for flexibility, and anything anyone wants to add to this topic. Seriously, I'm all ears.
Let's start with what is almost universally required for a bachelor's degree: It's around 120+ course hours - give or take a few. Student must pass required coursework and exams. Students can meet those requirements sooner or later, and on average expect to graduate around 4 years.
Let's start with what it almost universally required for a shodan degree: It's around 300+ days of training - give or take a few. Student must pass required coursework and exams. Students can meet those requirements sooner or later, and on average expect to graduate around 3 years.
I could just add, that a shodan degree is generally seen as a student's acceptance and beginning into the school of aikido - and not at all the level of mastery it's sometimes marketed, or - even through accident - misrepresented as being.
Any college or school that would require students to complete - and pay for - double or triple the standard amount of course hours/time/days, should be considered in that light. And it appears that the dawn of reconsideration may be at hand - even internally from the top brass. I find this highly encouraging.
Yamada's already come out and said he doesn't like the ranking system. http://www.aikido-yamada.eu/index.php/sensei/interview/