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Sir Alex Ferguson’s Eight Degrees

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In the wake of the announcement of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement after nearly 27 years as manager of Manchester United, talk has naturally focused on his many footballing achievements. But did you know that he also has eight degrees?

That’s right, over the course of his career Sir Alex Ferguson has been awarded honorary degrees by eight different universities – four of them in his native Scotland, three in the North West of England where he's been based during his tenure at Manchester United, and one in Northern Ireland.

Alex Ferguson’s achievements may make him undisputed number one among football managers, but how do his many degrees stack up in the QS World University Rankings?

University of Salford, 1996

Sir Alex Ferguson’s first academic triumph came at the University of Salford, near to Manchester United’s Old Trafford base, where he was awarded an honorary degree in 1996. The University of Salford ranks as one of the world’s top 150 universities for civil engineering.

We’re not sure Fergie would have learned too much about building a successful football team, but he did oversee the construction of "Fortress Carrington", one of the country’s largest and most high-tech training facilities, opened in 2000.

Robert Gordon University, 1997

The second institution to commemorate Fergie’s achievements was Robert Gordon University, based in Aberdeen, Scotland. A proud Scotsman, prior to managing Manchester United Ferguson led Aberdeen to their first ever European triumph, winning the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup in 1983.

Robert Gordon University doesn’t yet feature in the QS World University Rankings, but we’re sure its focus on professional and business-related degrees could have helped Fergie hone his famous eye for a bargain in the transfer market.

Glasgow Caledonian University, 2001

Fergie completed his hat-trick with an honorary degree from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2001. The university narrowly missed out on a spot in the global top 200 for computer science.

If Fergie had brushed up on his computer skills he would have seen #thankyousiralex become the number one trending hashtag worldwide on Twitter, notching up over 100,000 mentions in an hour.

University of St Andrews, 2002

In 2002 Fergie made it into the academic big time, with an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews, one of the UK’s top institutions.

The university ranks 12th in the world for philosophy, and we’re sure getting to grips with Plato, Aristotle and Descartes could have helped Fergie win his famous wars of words with managers such as Kevin Keegan, Arsene Wenger and Raphael Benitez.

Or perhaps a degree in philosophy would help explain the concept of ‘Fergie Time’... 

Manchester Metropolitan University, 2009

After a seven-year mortar-board drought Fergie returned to winning ways in 2009 with an honorary degree from Manchester Metropolitan University. It makes the top 200 in education, which may have helped develop Fergie’s famous eye for nurturing young talent.

Footballing legends to come through the youth ranks under Ferguson include Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Paul Scholes, and Fergie’s ‘young guns’ won an unprecedented ‘treble’ of major trophies in 1999.

University of Stirling, 2011

Fergie notched his third degree from his native Scotland from the University of Stirling in 2011. It makes the global top 200 for philosophy, education and communication – an area in which Fergie wasn’t always at his best.

He famously refused to speak to the BBC for seven years after it made allegations against his son, Jason, in a TV documentary in 2004.

University of Manchester, 2011

Fergie notched up a degree from another big hitter in 2011, with an honorary degree from the University of Manchester.

Manchester makes the global top 10 for both pharmacy and geography, and a degree in the latter would have helped Fergie keep track of his many famous foreign signings. International players who have excelled under Ferguson include Eric Cantona, Peter Schmeichel and Cristiano Ronaldo.

University of Ulster, 2012

Fergie notched his first degree from Northern Ireland in 2012, courtesy of the University of Ulster. And now that he has more time on his hands maybe Ferguson will return there to take a degree for real. With the University of Ulster offering the widest range of degree courses in Northern Ireland, he certainly won’t be stuck for choice… 

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Written by Danny B.

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