The worst honorary graduates

Didn’t quite manage to get a degree? Don’t worry, get famous and they will give you one for free!


Picture the scene: Graduation Day. The exams have been passed, the naysayers silenced, and you have finally made it. You sit smugly in the glow of academic achievement when something on stage catches your eye. Is that…Toyah Willcox?

Welcome to the wonderful world of the ‘honorary graduate’, where you can earn a degree while bypassing such time-consuming requirements as studying and taking exams.

Officially, they’re given to recognise contributions to specific fields – fine for Sir David Attenborough, national treasure and holder of no less than 32 honorary degrees, but most of the time these just take the piss.

Here’s The Tab’s compilation of the worst offenders. Good to know your £9k a year isn’t going to waste!


Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs is most commonly known for kicking a ball around and sleeping with his sister-in-law. His great achievements were acknowledged by a Master of Arts from the University of Salford in 2008. In a typically florid statement, the United player gushed: “When I started my career as a footballer I didn’t envisage that one day I’d be made Master of Arts.” Neither did we, Ryan.


Dannii Minogue

Dannii, the lesser Minogue and X Factor Judge, was recognised as a Doctor of Media by Southampton Solent University in 2011. In a statement, Minogue claimed to be ‘shocked and honoured’, probably because she had never actually been to Southampton.


Susan Boyle

Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh recognised Boyle in 2012 for her ‘contribution to the creative industries’. Following her award, she sang on China’s got Talent.


Kermit the Frog

In 1996, Muppet star Kermit the Frog received an Honorary Doctorate of Amphibious Letters from Long Island University. He was awarded for his significant environmental work, despite the fact that he is obviously a fucking puppet.


Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwean President Mugabe was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Edinburgh in 1984, despite four years in power marked by mass disappearances, rape and murder.

In a statement at the time, Edinburgh explained that he was being honoured “not only for his extraordinary intellectual discipline and energy but for those qualities of statesmanship which made him one of the great figures of modern Africa.”


Jimmy Savile

Britain’s friendliest Top of the Pop’s presenter received an honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of Bedfordshire in 2009.

At the event, where he was being honoured for his ‘contributions’ to Stoke Madeville hospital, he joked about the abuse rumours highlighted in Louis Theroux’s documentary, saying he had ‘not been found out yet’.

Who do you think is the worst honorary doctorate recipient? Vote in our poll or let us know in the comments.