Doctor Who ? The celebrities who became instant academics
Singer Ed Sheeran is just one of the latest in a long line of celebrities to pick up an honorary degree for "outstanding contributions" in their field. But should the rich and famous be handed academic plaudits on a silver platter?
What do Dannii Minogue, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir David Attenborough all have in common?
Answer: They can all legitimately put the word "doctor" in front of their names.
Though Sir David's expertise as a naturalist is indisputable, the fact remains he has not, in the strictest sense of the word, earned his 32 honorary doctorates - at least not in the traditional way of studying, cramming and passing exams.
So what exactly are these academic awards and why are they given out?
An honorary degree is a doctorate for which a university has waived the usual requirements - namely study - and is conferred in recognition of achievement.
The first was awarded to Lionel Woodville in the late 1470s by the University of Oxford in what appears to have been an attempt to obtain the favour of a man with great influence.
Since then, countless degrees have been dished out by England's higher education establishments.
In 2014 alone, 117 universities across the country awarded 957 honorary degrees or fellowships to those, famous or otherwise, who have impressed in their professions.
Article by Lauren Potts for the BBC
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