by Stanley Azuakola
Nigerians have long complained about the indiscriminate awards of honorary degrees given to individuals with questionable track record, many times purely for financial reasons. Finally, universities are taking tangible steps to correct that anomaly.
The Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities last weekend in Abuja released new guidelines for the award of honorary degrees in the nation’s universities. The vice chancellors had just risen from the 27th conference of the association, which held at the Nasarawa State University, where they discussed the erosion of academic culture and tradition.
According to the secretary-general of the association, Prof. Michael Faborode, the new guidelines, which would be effectively known as the “Keffi Declaration,” would become effective from January 2013.
“We have 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.
“There’s no consideration for contribution to the development of the university and no consideration for national development,’’ said Faborode.
Also, he said that universities were enjoined to make it a policy not to bestow honorary degree on any person holding political office, and that they should award degrees in line with best practices.
“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,” he said.