News Limited websites carry this story kicked off by former Victorian Liberal MP Phil Honeywood. I reckon Phil's right. If you want to be a professor, do the work.
I'd add to Phil's commentary with another consideration about this practice. There's too much scope for unhelpful suspicions when a former politician is rewarded with a title for "supporting" an institution (ie by deciding to give the institution taxpayer funds).
Professor tag 'wasted on pollies', says Phil Honeywood
Former politicians appointed to often honorary roles in universities should not be given the title of professor because it undermines the long struggle and hard work of real academics, a former senior politician says.
Phil Honeywood, who in a former life was a deputy leader of the Victorian Liberals, said while there was a strong temptation for vice-chancellors to gather a cadre of VIPs, "it's a temptation that should be resisted". "Genuine academics spend many years acquiring the skills and knowledge to have the right to be called professor," Mr Honeywood said. "But to hand out the title to VIPs who might have graduated in the school of life but never taught a graduate class or written a research paper that has been peer reviewed is just wrong."
He was commenting on a recent spate of appointments of former politicians, including Julia Gillard and Bob Carr, to academic positions.
A list compiled by the HES reveals that almost all such appointments are to former Labor politicians. Whether this is due to a "natural companionship" with Left-leaning academics or whether former Liberal politicians are shunned by the academy is open for debate, said Geoff Gallop, former ALP premier of Western Australia and now director of the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney.
"Maybe conservative politicians feel universities wouldn't welcome them. Or maybe they are more interested in making money by sitting on corporate boards. I don't know the answer. There could be prejudice on both sides," Professor Gallop said.
University of Queensland economist and political commentator John Quiggin agreed. "There's a whole new business in post-political careers. They used to be older when they left politics and just retired," Professor Quiggin said. "Now they are becoming politicians before they have a real job and are much younger when they leave. But my experience is that most of these roles are honorary positions; a university is a convenient place to park themselves after parliament".
News Limited published a list of professorial appointees with the story.