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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 17:23 GMT
Honorary degree for Sir Denis
Sir Denis (L), Baroness Thatcher and univeristy chancellor Sir Martin Jacomb (R)
Taking centre stage, Baroness Thatcher attends the ceremony
Sir Denis Thatcher has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Buckingham for being an "English gentleman".

Over 40 students and 60 VIP guests attended the ceremony at the UK's only independent university.


It is an honour that I have neither earned nor deserved

Sir Denis Thatcher
The husband of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was recognised as "not an academic in the usual sense of the word", having never gained a degree.

Sir Denis, 85, admitted: "It is an honour that I have neither earned nor deserved.

"Nonetheless I am proud to become an honorary graduate of such a distinguished university as is Buckingham."

'General achievement'

A spokesperson for the university denied that the presentation effectively nullified other degrees or that students would feel undermined.

The idea was to "honour the general achievement" of his life, such as his success as a multi-millionaire businessman.

"He commands the respect of staff and students alike and we are delighted that he has agreed to accept his first ever honorary degree from Buckingham," she said.

'Abuse of privilege'

But the National Union of Students criticised the award.

"The NUS feels universities should not abuse their privilege by awarding honorary degrees to private benefactors," NUS president, Owain James said.

Baroness Thatcher, 75, received an honorary degree from the university two years ago when she stood down as chancellor.

It is hoped she will attend the university's annual founders' day, which has been named Thatcher Day in her honour.

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