These are the most evil examinations society has.
They mean that until you are 18, you have to study a bunch of generic crap you hate just to get into university. Rather than studying whatever it is that you truly love to become a God at it as fast as possible and have any chance of advancing the field.
And then, if you decide that you want to change, which is not unlikely since you haven't really try to study what you signed up for before then, it can be very hard and time consuming, leading to a bunch of adults with useless degress they will never use at work.
With the invention of the Internet, all teaching material can be free and open source. Only laboratory space has any cost (besides the opportunity cost of participation in actual projects in a research team).