A Record 147 Summa Cum Laude Poised to Graduate From UP Diliman

Alongside 634 cum laude, 652 magna cum laude.
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The University of the Philippines-Diliman is poised to confer summa cum laude honors to 147 graduates this year, a record number that is being reviewed by its main academic body, one of its members said Wednesday.

It's a "hyperinflation" of graduates who qualify for latin honors that also include a potential 652 magna cum laude and 634 cum laude graduates, said journalism professor Danilo Arao, drawing parallels with fast-rising consumer prices.

A Latin phrase that translates to "with the greatest honors," summa cum laude is the university's highest academic distinction for graduates with a weighted average grade of 1.20 or higher. 

Colleges at UP Diliman can submit names for latin honor consideration until Wednesday, after which, the University Council will finalize how many will graduate with honors among a batch that has spent the last two, crises-plagued years of the pandemic finishing their degree via remote learning. 

'Grade hyperinflation'?

While congratulating the students, Arao, a UP Journalism department faculty member, on Twitter raised the concern of grade inflation, an issue that he said has been there even before the pandemic.

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"It needs to be addressed to know the reasons for having more Latin honor graduates," Arao told reportr, adding such inquiry is not meant to "invalidate the deserving honor students" as pointed out by students who took issue with his claim.

Factors contributing to the trend must be identified to ensure that the university's grading system would remain "fair", Arao said, citing earlier context-specific discussions by foreign publications like the Stanford Review and Times Higher Education.

"In fact, even the concept of 'grades' and 'honors' should also be revisited," added Arao.

Among issues raised in the Stanford blog were how inflated grades lead to a "disadvantage" for students with less resources to compete, as well as unfair competition in grade-conscious undertakings like applying for scholarships, graduate schools, and jobs. 

But "grade deflation", the common solution proposed in response to the phenomenon, would be ineffective in the absence of such reforms in other schools who may be experiencing the same problem, Stanford Review said.

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"But if other schools don’t adopt similar policies, we will be faced with a situation where Stanford students will be applying for jobs with Bs, versus kids from other schools with inflated As," it added.

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