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Nigeria: Universities to stop giving politicians honorary degrees

Nigerian public universities

A new policy, drafted by the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities is set to ban the nation’s tertiary institutions from awarding honorary degrees to any political holder or appointee.

This is among some other policies, are being put together by the Vice-Chancellors to reform the education sector as the association on Monday released guidelines for the award of honorary degrees in Nigerian universities.

The Secretary-General of the Association, Prof. Michael Faborode, stated at the 27th conference of the association, which was held at the Nasarawa State University, while examining the general erosion of academic culture and tradition agreed on the new guidelines.

According to Prof Faborode, “The onward procedure for the award of honorary degrees enjoined universities to make it a policy not to bestow honorary degree on any person holding political office while still in service.”

“The award of degree should be given to any professional who has made significant or ground breaking discoveries in the areas of accomplishments, invention, and innovation among others to societal development.”

“This should not be tied to wealth consideration or political alignment, rather it should be based on leadership, service and the contribution of the recipient to social and economic development of the society,” he added.

‘Dr’-title not honorary degrees

Another tough decision agreed upon by the Vice-Chancellors is to address the apparent abuse of the title ‘Dr’ by honorary awardees, who had not conducted any research work to earn the title.

Faborode further explained that the association agreed that no university should be allowed to award honorary degree “If it has not graduated any Ph.D. or has no post-graduate school.” He also added that the use of ‘Dr’ as a title for honorary degree graduates and awardees “Is unconventional and therefore, not allowed.”

He noted that the association of Vice-Chancellors observed that the number of honorary degree awardees have become uncontrollably large, “Ranging from one to 20 in a single convocation ceremony and at times presented in absentia to surrogates.”

“We have also noted that most of these awards are based on wealth, political office, and position as a means of generating revenue with little or no consideration for integrity.

He lamented that there is no consideration for contribution to the development of the university and no consideration for national development for the awardees. He said that the guidelines and procedure for the selection of honorary degree recipients should be in accordance with the law and statute of the respective universities.

This, he noted should be in line with best practices and the selection process which should be through the appropriate committee of the awarding university’s Senate. The association of Vice-Chancellors as a matter of policy also decried the system of backlogging convocation ceremonies.

They therefore decided that all universities should hold their convocation ceremonies annually and where possible within the same month each year. Faborode said that the association in collaboration with the Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC) would act as whistle blowers and take appropriate action to ensure compliance.

The guidelines which are known as “Keffi Declaration” are expected to be effective from January 2013. The “Keffi Declaration” would reduce the indiscriminate award of honorary degrees and restore the age long university culture and tradition of best practices, declared Prof Faborode.

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