Another view on Honorary Degrees
Following an earlier post, here we have a slightly different take, this time from the Daily Mail:
Degree day at a university in 21st-century Britain…’And our honorary doctorates this year,’ he intones, ‘go to . . .’ And the crowd tenses, expecting the name of some international polymath with numerous and learned achievements to his credit. Who will it be? Internet inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee? Pianist Alfred Brendel? Mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah? Dream on.
‘Our honorary doctorates this year go to . . . Mr Dickie Bird, Mr Murray Walker, Miss Cilla Black and Monsieur Raymond Blanc.’
With which the whole edifice of university intellectualism collapses like a bouncy castle the moment its electric blower has been switched off at a kiddies’ birthday party. Honorary doctorates could be the most prized academic possessions, but in our egalitarianised education system their potency has been trashed.
Whilst it is something of an overstatement to suggest that Honorary Degrees have ever been central to the academic standing of universities, celebrities are certainly more frequent recipients than they used to be. Not sure that this is a manifestation of some form of misplaced egalitarianism though. Nor is the ‘solution’ to make Simon Cowell Secretary of State.
See also recent podcast on this topic.