I believe that it should be possible for Cisco to produce a license or an entire version of IOS that could be provided for use by students.
Consider that thousands of students are using Dynamips to learn and develop practical skills. Once IOS no longer works in Dynamips, then you will need real equipment. That means renting racks from third parties on an hour by hour basis and paying hard cash.
Part of Cisco’s success has been access to learning, quality training and access to lab environments. Take that away and we might start to consider other vendors.
Cisco should produce a solution for it’s customer who want to learn and use Cisco products.