The general procedure is, you study for three to four years, write-up a well written, detailed and original thesis. Three to four years of constant and intensive reading, writing, research and some occasional advice from the supervisor. Emotions ranging from stress, tears, may be even loss of appetite. But earning that Doctorate will make you realise that it was all worth it.
Regardless his current views, regardless who he defends, and regardless being a son of one of the most brutal and greedy dictator, the assumption is that Said Al-Islam Gaddafi went through this very procedure and earned his Doctorate. Well that was the assumption for three years now. And as many know, this was awarded from one of the UK’s top universities – London School of Economics and Political Science.
As a strong believer in education, I do not think it is right for universities to suddenly decide to investigate whether a candidate committed plagiarism AFTER THREE YEARS. If he was suspected of such a crime, then it should certainly have been investigated before the Doctorate was awarded. Furthermore, why accept the £1.5 million gift in the first instance if there were any doubts over the validity of his thesis?
A university that will be charging £9,000 a year in tuition fees from students from 2012 should surely have identified any problems in the thesis at once.
So we question now why so suddenly consider opening an investigation?
Certainly politics enters into the equation. Distance oneself (especially a university such as LSE) from the son that currently defends his father of whom has been committing acts of genocide? Although, this defence does, in effect, result Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to drench his hands in blood. His decision to defend his father is his alone, and all we can do is criticise him for making the wrong decision on this occasion. But what right do we have to call for his degree to be revoked just because we do not agree with him?
But should his later acts affect his academic results of the past? There should now be more concentration on why LSE did not act or investigate the possibility of Saif AL-Islam Gaddafi committing plagiarism.
This has also opened the door of discourse of how a university judge’s a student’s thesis. Is it purely based on the academic side, or does the student’s background or relations play a role in awarding a Doctorate? Does the profile of the student affect the final decision rather than the hard-work?