Academicians hail KSHEC's decision on honorary doctorates

A much-needed reform, says former BU V-C

Academicians hail KSHEC's decision on honorary doctorates

Academicians have welcomed the Karnataka State Higher Education Council's (KSHEC) directive to State universities to limit the number of honorary doctorates to three per year.

At a general council meeting of KSHEC on Aug 11, the members resolved to trim the number of honorary doctorates to three per year following the concerns, expressed by academicians, about the sanctity of such degrees.

Universities have been asked to make sure that only deserving personalities are awarded such doctorates.

Prof K Siddappa, former vice chancellor of Bangalore University (BU), hailed the decision as a much-needed one. Prof Siddappa told Deccan Herald, “Indiscriminate awarding of honorary doctorates belittles the status of the university. Even without the government exercising control in this matter, the universities should themselves restrict the number of these doctorates,” he said.

“In fact, what was the need to award honorary doctorates every year,” questions Prof B Thimme Gowda,  Vice-Chancellor, BU. As far as BU is concerned, it has already limited the number, he said, “It is meaningless to award sixteen or seventeen honorary doctorates. There is no necessity to award an honorary doctorate every year. We have to ensure that only those who truly deserve the doctorates are awarded the same.”

Though this seemed to be a common perspective, not all universities are likely to abide by it. Prof K S Rangappa, Vice Chancellor, Mysore University, sought to take a different stand. He thought it to be hindering to the universities’ freedom if restrictions are imposed in awarding doctorates.

“I do not appreciate this decision. Universities must have the freedom to decide how many honorary doctorates should be awarded and who makes it to the list. Unless the State government decides to amend the Universities Act to implement this decision, I would go by the university’s Academic Council and the Syndicate’s opinion on awarding doctorates,” he said.

The Mysore University V-C’s decision last year to award an honorary doctorate to (his relative) Dr C N Manjunath, director of Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences had come under scathing criticism. However, the issue died down later when Dr Manjunath rejected the proposal.

At the KSHEC meeting, the vice chancellors were also asked to submit a report on curbing fake PhDs.

Prof Siddappa felt that universities needed to take preventive measures towards this and ensure quality in awarding PhDs, making publications in peer- reviewed journals mandatory part of the course work.

DH News Service

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