A vestige of prestige

Posted on October 31st, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 2 comments

By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson

When I first started out as a journalist, the daily paper I worked for had a document called a “style guide” which I practically memorised.

I recall that the style guide admonished us junior hacks never to use the word ‘prestigious’ in association with ‘award’ or ‘awards’, the reason being that awards, of their very nature, confer prestige and so to call them prestigious is merely redundant, akin to describing ice as frozen or a fatal accident as tragic (the paper I worked for was a little more high-minded than some of the tabloids around today).

The style guide was right of course; when one thinks of some major accolades, awards and trophies – the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer, the Ashes, an Olympic gold medal or even the Ryder Cup – no one refers to these as ‘prestigious’, there is no need to, it is self-evident.

So I am always suspicious of any awards which oversell themselves as being ‘prestigious’ – to my mind, the use of the adjective paradoxically devalues that which it is describing. I am even more suspicious of any organisation which makes an award contingent on the recipient paying a fee – this is no more than ‘cash for honours’, albeit on a small scale. Mind you, sometimes the scale of these scams is not quite so small; one so-called award doing the rounds of care sector businesses at the moment asks prospective winners for as much as £985. My wife and I recently spent a bit less than that on a short break in St Malo and I think we got much better value from that than we would from the dubious kudos conferred by a dodgy award sold to me by an equally dodgy awarding body.

Then again, I am very proud of my degree in astrophysics from the University of Bogota – very reasonably priced.

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2 responses to “A vestige of prestige”

  1. Bob Ferguson says:

    I wonder if you would include the Medical Royal Colleges within your description of “dodgy” awarding bodies. Medics who want to advance their careers can only do so by undertaking any number of searching examinations conducted by these bodies. And paying through the nose for the privilege, of course. Once they emerge successfully, they can display their professional qualifications – passports to progress – after their names, safe in the knowledge that, like their university degrees, they are theirs for life. Except they aren’t!

    If for whatever reason – emigration, for example – the medic decides not to keep paying the annual membership fees of the royal college, they can no longer describe themselves as, say, a fellow of whatever, or display the appropriate letters after their name. And they will be asked to return their certificates. It seems they don’t own these professional qualifications, they only rent them!

    This closed shop arrangement is a lucrative income generator for the royal colleges. If universities followed suit – by “licensing” their degrees – it might leave some spare cash in HM Treasury for social care.

  2. Mike says:

    I and my staff team have felt just the same when researching what is required to enter the “GB Care Awards”.

    Needless to say we all felt any “win” in these awards would be a hollow victory, given that participants at each stage of the process, are required to pay for extremely expensive tables / catering etc.

    Any worthwhile award should simply be judged independently on its own merits.

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