Italy stops Honorary Degree awards

Italian HE Minister bans honoraries shock

The Italian HE minister has banned the award of honarary degrees according to the Chronicle, claiming that celebrity recipients bring dishonour.


Citing the need to protect the “prestige” of Italy’s university system, the country’s higher-education minister, Fabio Mussi, ordered its 66 public universities on Wednesday to stop granting honorary degrees for the rest of the year.

The move followed last week’s controversy over the University of Turin’s decision to award an honorary bachelor’s degree in economics to Jonella Ligresti, 40, who is chairwoman of one of Italy’s largest insurance companies, a family business, but who was previously known as a medal winner in equestrian events. The university acted over the objections of Mr. Mussi, who by law must sign off on all such degrees before they can be granted. In recent years, Italian universities have honored an increasing number of celebrities with debatable academic achievements, including the champion motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi

These two awards sound a little off-beam perhaps but my guess is that similar honours wouldn’t look totally out of place in a UK context provided that there was some connection with the institution. What is very alien though is the notion of the HE Minister over-ruling institutional autonomy in the award of degrees, even honorary ones.

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