It was exam time recently. Lots of people talking about assignments and word limits.
"ARGH! I need to do a 30 trillion word essay on earwigs!" was not an uncommon utterance.
If there is anything about writing software that I know, lines of code is completely the wrong metric.
Understandability, correctness, and simplicity are far more useful from a software point of view.
You might say that the English language isn't designed for a computer - and I would argue that neither are modern programming languages.
I would suggest that a "word count" is just the same as lines of code. If we've spent 30 years or more knowing that lines of code is a horrible measurement, why hasn't this insight spread to other fields - particularly universities and centers of education?
Why are people still required to create essays of a given length?
Why not set a different requirement out: convincingly argue X in clear and rational terms?