International students were blue-blooded, i.e., of the nobility. Children of celebrities and senators, perhaps.
The entry criteria stressed health and physical appeal, intelligence and breadth of knowledge, vitality and the ability to communicate effectively.
This university was to churn out high-level civil servants (apparently with ready jobs).
The curriculum included language learning and culture studies.
Everyone was on scholarship and very well fed.
The duration of the degree was three years.
There was a final test by the king. It was also an employment interview.
Some graduates had much more substance than magicians; they got the top positions.
What’s the difference between then and now? Do you know any universities that have similar admissions criteria as above. Do we imagine a cross between auditions for a competitive sports club, supermodel school, the debate society, and a bookworm band. We’d certainly prefer to look for the ready made, well-rounded individual, that would very likely make us proud tomorrow. Experience matters to our reputation. Since we can only take in so many, and even fewer with scholarships, it’s best and just to go for the best of the best.
The statements above came from:
“Then did the king give word to Ashpenaz, the chief of his eunuchs, that he should bring in, of the sons of Israel, even of the seed royal, and of the nobles, youths in whom was no blemish, but comely of countenance, and skilful in all wisdom, and possessed of knowledge, and able to impart instruction, and who had vigour in them, to stand in the palace of the king, and that they should be taught the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them the provision of each day upon its day, out of the delicacies of the king and out of the wine which he drank, and so to let them grow three years, and, at the end thereof, that they should stand before the king. … and, in any matter of wisdom and discernment as to which the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the sacred scribes—the magicians, who were in all his realm. (Daniel 1:3-5,20 from The Emphasized Bible by J. B. Rotherham published 1902)
Were the Chaldeans a learned people, in general; like the Swiss.
Liking Nebuchadnezzar: he could hold his own on the battlefield and the classroom.