My school requires students to pass HESI at the end of the junior year in order to matriculate to senior status. We had three attempts. To be eligible to sit for NCLEX, we had to take HESI (after we graduated) and pass within three attempts.
HESI came to my school several years before I entered in response to the state nursing board that mandated schools have a first time NCLEX pass rate of at least 75%. Otherwise, schools could lose accreditation. Administration informed me that prior to HESI, some schools had pass rates in the 60s. Last year I believe, the lowest rate was in the upper 80s.
Does HESI benefit students, schools, or the public? All have time and money invested. The sad part of reality is that weaker students (as usually indicated by grades, HESI results, etc.) most likely will always struggle which sometimes extends to on the job/floor. Do the exams help struggling students face reality earlier thus saving them time, money, and perhaps ultimately patients lives? Tough questions. Many emotions. Many concerns for all interested.
Is it "legal" to change requirements midstream. Some courts in some states would recognize a handbook as a contract. The problem quickly becomes one of money, time, and concern--lawyers, testing deadline rapidly approaching, getting a court date, and apathy usually from other students who are "doing ok" and personally know it. Additionally a lot of students won't protest or try making changes under any guise because they are younger, still used to taking orders from elders or those in position of power, or don't want to "rock the boat"--less assertive.
During school, I highlighted/raised hell/didn't back down on several issues that I deemed important. I often became the only one complaining or the loudest of them. I made some progress or drew positive attention occasionally. I paid some prices for my actions. Still, I feel I did the right things and garnered some private accolades from classmates.
Long and short to the original poster, I hear you and understand your concerns. I had to repeat a class, retake HESI, and sweat out passing HESI in my senior year to be eligible for NCLEX. It all worked out. It might help your friend to keep things in statistical perspective. If she is receiving As and Bs, she'll probably do ok. My class lost about half its size mostly to poor grades, not supplemental assessment testing. I remember maybe four being dropped, not bad in the grand scheme of things though it "sucked" for the individuals. I can't remember the exact number lost, but all were academically weaker than me. Hope my thoughts and observations are helpful.