In my previous posting Mister Professor Doctor, I queried why university professors in Malaysia would insist on titling themselves as Professor Doctor So-and-So (apart from other titles and national awards) when only a person with a doctorate can be appointed a professor. Other Commonwealth professors don't bother with the relatively insignificant 'doctor'.
I jokingly asked whether those multi-titled academicians were scared that people might not know they have a PhD. I didn’t realise how close I had been to the truth.
Over at my other blogsite Boleh Talk Reader Malayan Tiger provided a penetrating insight into Malaysian Academia. He said:
“There is a good reason for the title Prof Dr and Prof. The reason being many 'Professors' in local Malaysian universities do not have a PhD but are promoted to Professors. To make this distinction, Professors who have completed PhD's make themselves known as Prof Dr so and so.”
“So the next time you see a Prof Dr, you know that particular person is a Prof with a PhD whereas a Prof So and So is a Prof due to a promotion and does not have a PhD.”
I am shocked that academicians without PhD could be ever promoted to professors! What are we trying to prove? That our universities are full of professors, when in reality there are just half-past six ones.
Then one Anonymous reader here at KTemoc Konsiders said:
“In Malaysia (or UK system in general) a professor does not necessarily has a PhD degree. Not like in USA where a professor is definitely a PhD holder (i.e. Dr.). That is why he put Prof. Dr. bla bla .”
I agree with his or her description of the US system but not so for his/her claim of the UK’s. According to Wikipedia:
“In the United Kingdom the Republic of Ireland and most Commonwealth countries (but not Canada, which follows the North American system), equivalently senior academics to assistant and associate professors are generally known as ‘Lecturers’, ‘Senior Lecturers’ and ‘Readers’, with professorships reserved for only the most senior academic staff.”
Thus unlike the USA or Canada, UK and other Commonwealth countries don’t have Assistance or Associate Prof, but ‘lecturers’ and ‘readers’. Therefore the Commonwealth system is even more stringent.
Now this is what Wikipedia says about the lowest of the 3 US professorships, the Assistance Professor (or the UK/Commonwealth equivalent of lecturer):
“… the entry-level position, for which one usually needs a Ph.D. or other doctorate, sometimes only a masters degree, … In some areas, such as the natural sciences, it is uncommon to grant assistant professor positions to recently graduated Ph.D.s, and nearly all assistant professors will have completed some time as Postdoctoral fellows.
my underlining & bold-ing
The standard is so high that the 3rd level of professorship, that of Assistance Professor or the equivalent of the UK’s ‘lecturer’ (not even yet a ‘reader’) has to be not only a PhD but one who is not a recent one, but additionally has “completed some time as Postdoctoral fellows.”
While there would of course be the rare occasions when just a Master could be considered for Assistance (not full) Professorship (equivalent to the Commonwealth 'Lecturer'), this would not be condoned in the natural sciences.
"A Professor in these countries holds either a departmental chair (generally as the head of the department or of a sub-department) or a personal chair (a professorship awarded specifically to that individual). In that sense, only full professors (North American style) are equivalents of professors."
So we can see that under the UK system, its Professor is the equivalent of the US (Full) Professor. There is no such thing as a person without a PhD becoming a professor. It would be impossible, except in Malaysia!
In fact Wikipedia goes on to elaborate that:
"The title of Professor is a great honour, normally reserved in correspondence to full professors only; ..."
My underlining – it then continues:
“… lecturers and readers are properly addressed by their academic qualification (Dr for a PhD, DPhil or MD, and Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms otherwise).”
Therefore the new Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Malaya whose highest quals is only a Master, should by Commonwealth academic tradition be addressed as only Mrs, Miss or Ms.
How long do you think it'll be before she becomes a Professor?