Is Austria's obsession with titles harmful?
Austria's Minister of Labour and Family Affairs Christine Aschbacher has resigned after just under a year in office. The politician, who belongs to the governing ÖVP party, is facing allegations that parts of her doctoral thesis submitted to the Technical University of Bratislava in 2020 were plagiarised. Observers link the affair to Austria's penchant for academic titles.
An absurd farce in title-mad Austria
The Tages-Anzeiger can only shake its head in wonder:
“In Austria, there are hundreds of titles. ... But the Bologna education reform curbed the addiction to titles, and even in this country of councillors of commerce and chamber singers [an honorific title for distinguished singers of opera and classical music] only just under one in two executives has an academic title. So reality is gnawing away at the clichés. This makes Aschbacher's fall from grace all the more embarrassing. She resigned amid allegations of plagiarism, even though these have not yet been definitively proven. But the whole nation is laughing so loudly about her awkward texts and embarrassing quotes that she had no choice. ... Some of it looks as if it were the result of copy-and-paste and Google Translate without it even being read through again afterwards.”
Stop the trade in academic titles!
Kurier also criticises the Austrians' obsession with academic titles:
“At 34 percent, the number of university graduates in Austria is just under the OECD average (39 percent). The problem, however, is that no one knows any more what any of the degrees is worth. ... With money you can acquire a well-sounding academic degree, and more and more (private) universities all over the world are specialising in this. ... Now we've had another spectacular resignation in politics. Of course that's where the best targets are to be found. The fact is, however, that they're just the tip of the iceberg. ... Clearly it's time to put quality above quantity. Even if that doesn't swell the graduate numbers as much as in the recent past.”