Sat, 26 Feb 2000

Academic titles or a travesty?

I recently saw a newspaper advertisement reading as follows: "Congratulations to the 14 outstanding executives who have received their Doctor Honoris Causa from Kennedy-Western University, USA. Bangkok, Feb. 12, 2000". The advertisement also included a group photograph of the recipients posing with someone who was presumably their promoter.

I was really surprised about the simultaneous conferring of the title to 14 people. Are the titles genuine or just a travesty? What is the extraordinary background of these doctors in science? There were no explanations. Is the title for sale? Why the advertisement? Is it to attract other people to apply for the title? In my opinion, many doctorate holders in Indonesia have shown that their work is not always good. A PhD has mainly a decorative role; the holders want to appear impressive and authoritative.

I hope the Ministry of National Education will issue a regulation that people can only use academic titles such as an M.A. or doctorate if conferred officially by universities in Indonesia. Any degrees received abroad should be registered and recognized by the ministry. Is it necessary for the House of Representatives to pass a law on the use of academic titles?

Most important of all is that people should be aware that the bearer of a seemingly genuine academic title may be a poseur. We should not be full of admiration by assuming the title is genuine.

I can only voice my congratulations to the 14 recipients of the doctor honoris causa from abroad. Be happy and use your title.