I noticed in this week's papers that Kim Cattrall of Sex and the City fame has been awarded an honorary degree. Kim flew over to her English hometown to receive her degree from Liverpool John Moores university. Also in the news were honorary degrees for Orlando Bloom from the university of Kent, and golfers Padraig Harrington, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson from the university of St Andrews. At my own graduation ceremony last December, no other than actress Liz Dawn aka Corrie's Vera Duckworth was on the stage receiving her degree. I have absolutely nothing against Ms Dawn or Ms Cattrall or any of the other celebrities personally. But I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking do they really deserve it and who actually benefits from their receiving these prestigious awards? Here comes the violins, but my graduation was the culmination of three years of study slumped over books and writing essays until the early hours combined with working full-time in nursing. Here's where I have a problem with giving honorary degrees to celebrities:-
Universities are places of scholarly learning. Places should be hard earned and seen as a privilege. Gaining a degree is generally a hard slog. Gaining a Masters degree or Doctorate is even more of an accomplishment. Many scholars devote their life to research in order to use their knowledge to improve the lives of others. Giving celebrities Mickey Mouse degrees simply for their notoriety demeans the importance and 'honour' of gaining a degree through hard work and diligence. If the university is so hard pressed that it needs celebrities to don a cap and gown and provide free advertising in the papers, then here's a novel suggestion... Stop providing Mickey Mouse courses in Media Studies or Complementary Medicine and rather than be interested in earning money from students or from 'celebrity' publicity, far better perhaps to try to retain academic integrity.
There, I've said it.