Cardassian Institutes of Higher Education provide the children of the upper echelons of Cardassian society with the education to maintain their positions in the High Classes.
The institutes allow the continuation of a belief in Cardassian society that each generation requires an elite class of leaders in every aspect of society; Artists, Soldiers, Politicians, Scholars, Business and Tradesmen all have dedicated institutes. At the Age of Emergence children of the upper classes (and lower classes for children with exceptional skill) are sent to live at the institutes for nine years. The courses are split into three year blocks, and at the end of each block the students either progress to the next level or fail and return to society at large to take up humble positions in their field of expertise. Those who succeed in passing after all nine years enter the ruling class. (DS9 novel: A Stitch in Time)