Abolish honorary degrees?

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Lady Comstock
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#1
Report Thread starter 7 years ago
#1
How is it fair that people, with no prior academic experience, can receive an honorary degree (including a doctorate) without having putting the hard work in that regular students have?

This is particularly distasteful when recipients are awarded honorary degrees because they are, basically, celebrities or have donated a large sum to a university.

The only time I would be in favour of an honorary degree is for academics or researchers (with existing academic qualifications) who have made significant achievements in their academic field, and a university wishes to honour them for that.

It's also really misleading. I have seen some recipients insist on being called 'Doctor' and carry on their business or work under the appearance of them being a 'Doctor'. This misleads the public about their qualifications, especially if they have no further academic credentials and a member of the public thinks they are getting a higher level of expertise due to the title.

So, I say abolish honorary degrees, or at least restrict their use and ban people from calling themselves 'Doctor' in a misleading way.
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Okorange
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#2
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#2
I used to think that way but then I stopped caring because most people who get honorary degrees don't call themselves doctors and they usually are more famous or accomplished than most doctors will ever be.

With that being said I think honorary degrees are useless and just stupid as they are awarded like hot cakes by unis to the point that nobody cares anymore.
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El Salvador
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#3
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#3
In the UK, you are normally not allowed to have the prefix 'doctor' with an honorary doctorate. This is more of a practice in the United States.

People who are awarded honorary doctorates by good universities are people who have achieved a lot more than any person with a doctorate could only dream of, and do not normally boost their status - is HM The Queen receiving a Doctor of Civil Law degree of University of Oxford going to boost her status? Is Dr The Hon Louis Cha OBE, the biggest-selling living Chinese author (more than 100 million official copies sold on the strength of just 14 novels in traditional Chinese) and co-founder and first editor-in-chief of an iconic paper, receiving an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree from University of Cambridge going to mislead the public on anything (he later read for an MPhil and PhD from Cambridge, and an additional PhD from Peking University anyway)?

There are cases where it is going to mislead the public. For example, a celebrity tutor in Hong Kong calls herself Dr Tann on the strength of an honorary doctorate (she hasn't read for a master's, yet) from Armstrong University. But ever if she did enrol and complete an actual doctorate from said university (which is not recognised by the United Nations or the US government, and has already been closed down), is that not misleading in itself? To go even further, there are people who are being accused of 'purchasing' non-honorary doctorates from unaccredited universities. How would that be any better?

This is, thus, a non-issue. Honorary doctorates from well-regarded universities are only given to people who have achieved way more than what a doctorate suggests you to have, and those who obtained the doctorates just by purchasing it are from dodgy places which should not have been recognised (and often are not) as universities in the first place. Even the less prestigious universities don't just award random degrees to random people: Kingston University awarded an honorary doctorate to alumnus Eason Chan, who is the King of Asian Pop, nicknamed 'God of Song', and released a classic album which Time has claimed to be one of the five best Asian albums. University of Victoria in Canada awarded an honorary doctorate to Sultan Vicwood Chong MBE JP who is an honorary dean, a multi-millionaire literally owning a city in China, a member of the National Committee of China on the strength of his donations to the university.

Even taking into account of the aforementioned celebrity tutor, you cannot be serious to think that any regular doctoral student has put in as much 'hard work' or achieve anywhere close to whatever any of these people have achieved.

Just like what then-Vice Chancellor of Cambridge said to Dr Cha when he enquired her on applying for an actual doctorate upon receiving his honorary one, there is no need to do an academic one any more because the ones who have been honoured have already moved way beyond that level of attainment.

Last of all, you cannot ban honorary degrees. They are business organisations, and in a liberal society, you cannot just ban a product that does not break any law. Whilst you can then enact a law to restrict this product from being sold, you can see from unaccredited universities awarding degrees that it won't work, and those organisations award them anyway.
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poohat
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#4
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#4
(Original post by Little Toy Gun)
People who are awarded honorary doctorates by good universities are people who have achieved a lot more than any person with a doctorate could only dream of, and do not normally boost their status - is HM The Queen receiving a Doctor of Civil Law degree of University of Oxford going to boost her status? Is Dr The Hon Louis Cha OBE, the biggest-selling living Chinese author (more than 100 million official copies sold on the strength of just 14 novels in traditional Chinese) and co-founder and first editor-in-chief of an iconic paper, receiving an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree from University of Cambridge going to mislead the public on anything (he later read for an MPhil and PhD from Cambridge, and an additional PhD from Peking University anyway)?
.
This is largely nonsense, most people with honorary degrees are not the Queen or Louis Cha. Many are just generic high level business people/artists/etc that 99.99% people won't have heard of, and the degree obviously boosts their status.

For example:

http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departme...honorary-grads
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/alumni/ouralumni/hongrads/
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username1221160
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#5
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#5
The key is the word honorary. You don't think anyone is going to give a real academic qualification to Robbie Savage, do you?
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El Salvador
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#6
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#6
(Original post by poohat)
This is largely nonsense, most people with honorary degrees are not the Queen or Louis Cha. Many are just generic high level business people/artists/etc that 99.99% people won't have heard of, and the degree obviously boosts their status.

For example:

http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departme...honorary-grads
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/alumni/ouralumni/hongrads/
Can you just point to me who exactly do you think did not deserve it?

Just by skimming through the lists, they are mostly professors or knights or peers or obviously accomplished persons in their fields.

Also, the title here says to 'abolish' them, meaning people like Louis Cha would not be recognised.
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MindTheGaps
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#7
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#7
(Original post by Little Toy Gun)
Can you just point to me who exactly do you think did not deserve it?

Just by skimming through the lists, they are mostly professors or knights or peers or obviously accomplished persons in their fields.

Also, the title here says to 'abolish' them, meaning people like Louis Cha would not be recognised.
From a week or two ago:

http://www.billboard.com/articles/ne...rary-doctorate
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Lady Comstock
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#8
Report Thread starter 7 years ago
#8
(Original post by Little Toy Gun)
Can you just point to me who exactly do you think did not deserve it?

Just by skimming through the lists, they are mostly professors or knights or peers or obviously accomplished persons in their fields.

Also, the title here says to 'abolish' them, meaning people like Louis Cha would not be recognised.
http://tab.co.uk/2013/07/30/the-wors...ary-graduates/

Savile received his doctorate at a time when his behaviour was certainly at the reasonable suspicion stage.

Also, what on earth did he do to contribute to the academic field of law?
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El Salvador
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#9
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#9
And you think Kanye West doesn't deserve an honorary doctorate in art from an art college, how?

Regardless of what you personally think of his music, he's moved 21 million copies of albums and 100 million copies of singles world-wide as a hip-hop artist peaking after the hip-hop peak in the States, won 21 Grammy awards, and has multiple albums considered some of the best albums of all-time. This is not considering his extensive production of music and other entertainment and cultural influences.

How is he pale compared to any average PhD in art/music from any university?
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El Salvador
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#10
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#10
(Original post by Lady Comstock)
http://tab.co.uk/2013/07/30/the-wors...ary-graduates/

Savile received his doctorate at a time when his behaviour was certainly at the reasonable suspicion stage.

Also, what on earth did he do to contribute to the academic field of law?
Do you have trouble reading? It says a Doctor of Arts, not law. Though he did have an honorary LLD from Leeds. But these degrees are just names. Doctors of Philosophy don't do much to what is considered now proper 'philosophy', so why should any doctoral student working in a different field be awarded a PhD?

You cannot seriously think the average PhD student has spent more 'hard work' in three years than he did in his lifetime? Or has achieved as much as he did?

He was the first and last presenter of the now iconic Top of the Pops programme, raised £40 for charities, among many other things. Among his honours and awards, an honorary degree is not even one of the brightest ones.

You're also acting as if the degrees, which have now been revoked, were awarded due to his raping people. They were given to recognise his achievements. There would be absolutely no difference if he or anyone was to read for a doctorate for three years - said university would still be granting the degree should that person meets the academic standards of the course.
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MindTheGaps
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#11
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#11
(Original post by Little Toy Gun)
And you think Kanye West doesn't deserve an honorary doctorate in art from an art college, how?

Regardless of what you personally think of his music, he's moved 21 million copies of albums and 100 million copies of singles world-wide as a hip-hop artist peaking after the hip-hop peak in the States, won 21 Grammy awards, and has multiple albums considered some of the best albums of all-time. This is not considering his extensive production of music and other entertainment and cultural influences.

How is he pale compared to any average PhD in art/music from any university?
I don't contest what he's achieved, but he didn't get it because of the value of his art. He got it because he's a famous celebrity.

It's not because I hate Kanye West I say this, but often these things are just publicity stunts for the university. I don't condemn that either necessarily, but certainly a fair few students at that university thought it somewhat cheapened their education, and I can see the point of view.
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Duncan2012
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#12
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#12
(Original post by Lady Comstock)
Also, what on earth did he do to contribute to the academic field of law?
But that's the point - honorary degrees are not for contributions to academia. They're a nice, easy, cheap way for a university to provide recognition to someone, often with with a local connection, who has made some significant achievement(s) and who the university benefits from being associated with. The post nominals usually (always?) make the distinction between academic and honorary awards. No-one uses them in real life so the idea to get rid of them would be a waste of time, IMO.
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El Salvador
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#13
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#13
(Original post by Duncan2012)
But that's the point - honorary degrees are not for contributions to academia. They're a nice, easy, cheap way for a university to provide recognition to someone, often with with a local connection, who has made some significant achievement(s). The post nominals usually (always?) make the distinction between academic and honorary awards. No-one uses them in real life so the idea to get rid of them would be a waste of time, IMO.
Real-life and academia are related. What you have achieved real-life can and do have significance in the academic world.

The attack on someone being awarded a 'Doctor of Laws' despite not having contribution in the field of law as we now understand is laughable, when Doctors of Philosophy don't have contribution in the field of philosophy as we now understand it. The same goes to LLB, Bachelor of Laws. 'Laws' is plural because it is for both civil law and canon law - how many university LLB courses are teaching canon law?

You're right, they are usually required to state that they are honorary, and they also have a different rule when listing them in an order. Not to mention degrees which are granted honorarily are usually not the degrees you can actually study for. Doctor of Laws is not an actual degree at any university.
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El Salvador
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#14
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#14
(Original post by Rinsed)
I don't contest what he's achieved, but he didn't get it because of the value of his art. He got it because he's a famous celebrity.
He's famous because he's achieved a lot. They go hand in hand. It's about achievements.

Kanye West's achievement has moved far beyond what a doctorate could suggest.

(Original post by Rinsed)
It's not because I hate Kanye West I say this, but often these things are just publicity stunts for the university. I don't condemn that either necessarily, but certainly a fair few students at that university thought it somewhat cheapened their education, and I can see the point of view.
Those students who think it has cheapened their education are just jealous. The entire student population combined hasn't achieved anywhere remotely close to what West has achieved in the field of music and entertainment.
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Duncan2012
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#15
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#15
(Original post by Little Toy Gun)
Real-life and academia are related. What you have achieved real-life can and do have significance in the academic world.

You're right, they are usually required to state that they are honorary, and they also have a different rule when listing them in an order. Not to mention degrees which are granted honorarily are usually not the degrees you can actually study for. Doctor of Laws is not an actual degree at any university.
By 'real life' I'm talking about 'someone's activities which are carried out while not studying for a degree'.

You'll find that Cambridge awards the LLD.
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Asolare
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#16
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#16
(Original post by Little Toy Gun)
He was the first and last presenter of the now iconic Top of the Pops programme, raised £40 for charities, among many other things. Among his honours and awards, an honorary degree is not even one of the brightest ones.

You're also acting as if the degrees, which have now been revoked, were awarded due to his raping people. They were given to recognise his achievements. There would be absolutely no difference if he or anyone was to read for a doctorate for three years - said university would still be granting the degree should that person meets the academic standards of the course.
Are u sure :rofl:
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El Salvador
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#17
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#17
(Original post by Inexorably)
Are u sure :rofl:
Well at least that. Though I've admittedly missed out a handful of 0s.
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El Salvador
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#18
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#18
(Original post by Duncan2012)
By 'real life' I'm talking about 'someone's activities which are carried out while not studying for a degree'.

You'll find that Cambridge awards the LLD.
Interesting. Thanks for this. So that could be confusing. But indeed you're still supposed to say it's honorary.

Well, I'm just saying people who have not studied for the degree could also be contributing to academia and/or have the level of attainment/academic ability. I doubt many Oxbridge creative writing PhDs/DPhils for example could write better than Thomas Hardy, for example.
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Duncan2012
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#19
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#19
(Original post by Lady Comstock)
How is it fair that people, with no prior academic experience, can receive an honorary degree (including a doctorate) without having putting the hard work in that regular students have?

This is particularly distasteful when recipients are awarded honorary degrees because they are, basically, celebrities or have donated a large sum to a university.

The only time I would be in favour of an honorary degree is for academics or researchers (with existing academic qualifications) who have made significant achievements in their academic field, and a university wishes to honour them for that.

It's also really misleading. I have seen some recipients insist on being called 'Doctor' and carry on their business or work under the appearance of them being a 'Doctor'. This misleads the public about their qualifications, especially if they have no further academic credentials and a member of the public thinks they are getting a higher level of expertise due to the title.

So, I say abolish honorary degrees, or at least restrict their use and ban people from calling themselves 'Doctor' in a misleading way.
This is either a troll or you need to educate yourself more on the purpose of honorary awards.

Name those recipients who insist on using their honorary titles. It's often against the regulations or customs of the university to use them in that manner and it could be bordering on fraud to represent yourself as something you're not.
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DJKL
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#20
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#20
I do not see the problem.

I was at the ceremony (as a parent) last year at St Andrews when Peter Higgs was awarded an honorary degree, my only disappointment was he did not speak.

I think it adds to the sense of occasion for the new graduates on the day, pretty sure my son will remember for the rest of his life that Peter Higgs was there whilst he was receiving his Bsc.
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