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What I meant to say, there was a bit of an arms race going on, especially in higher education. The professors and teachers knew many (if not all) students were cheating, so they adjusted the difficulty accordingly, so that, as you point out, not everyone gets an A. I don't know if it's still going on.

And I did have a few professors which considered it a problem if more than half of their class passed the first time they took the exam.

Such professors... have another reason for failing half the class...

They have to fail a number of students so that his class size maintains the numbers to avoid unwanted attention from the administration.

If let's say the normal class size was about 20, but you only get about 15 new students each semester, so you fail 5 of them (or more accounting for dropouts) to make up the numbers.

That's not how it worked in Russia at the time (don't know how it is now). You chose the profession to pursue, the curriculum was fixed and tailored to that profession. The side effect of this is class sizes were fixed, since everyone in the cohort studied the same things. In fact for my profession there were several parallel cohorts. We started out with about 100 people in total, and by graduation it was something like 30-35, the rest dropped out because shit's hard.

well, if you’re talking about 30 years ago, it was probably a different world then. It probably was less of a certification than entry into a guaranteed job.

today, the only analog to such a selection criteria in Singapore would be combat pilot selection. Every year probably a few thousand apply, about 200 manage to pass medicals, aptitudes etc, to go basic wings and only about 15-20 make the final cut.

That doesn’t happen in academia today though. A certificate doesn’t guarantee you a job, fewer tenure positions available, school fees rising, less govt support, administration getting more powerful due to corporatization etc. The certificate is seen as default end product, not a trophy for the top performers.

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