Let's break the constraint of the four year degree, and offer one, two, three, and four year degree options from the same high quality, high prestige universities. Students can decide what they need from the school: many years to explore options and ideas, a very tight focus on core learning for a specific path, or something in the middle. And in that way, students can get top credentials and control their costs.
Helping students "learn how to think" is an important goal of a university. The four year bachelor's degree is intended to deliver on that promise. This goal can still be accomplished in these shorter time frames and using the domain of knowledge that the student chooses as a focus. The university needs to make sure it is designing all classes to push that type of critical and creative thinking, not just rote learning. In that way, all students in all degree options build the essential skills of critical thinking and expression. Four years of that kind of academic work should have more impact than one year, but the "pick your degree" approach moves the choice of "how much to buy" to students rather than administrators.
Will the world accept these new, short degrees? The university brand will speak to the quality of the education and the readiness of a student in the path selected. Expectations (and opportunities) for a four year student should be greater if the four year experience is producing on its promise. A student who completed a two year undergraduate degree would have done the work equivalent to a major in the subject, and would be ready for an entry level position or perhaps to go on to a masters degree. A student who completed a one year program in "computer science foundations" should see opportunities matching that level of preparation. In all cases, the university is making sure that the "University of..." brand guarantees you are looking at the top prepared students for that class of degree.
I recognize that this challenge is about reducing cost and increasing access to the traditional bachelors degree. But it was pointed out in the Research phase that the "4 year degree" is a pretty arbitrary definition of what a degree must be. It was also pointed out that the broad range of courses required in a four year program are not a good match for every student and every goal. These "pick your size" degrees are consistent with the purpose and effects of a traditional four year degree. This simple change in the structure and types of degrees better fits student needs and can greatly reduce the cost of a degree for many students.