Bristol teenager who hasn’t gone to university yet to become honorary doctor of laws

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By Katie King on

She’ll be one of the youngest in the UK


A 19 year-old who hasn’t even started her undergraduate degree will be awarded the doctor of laws by the University of Bristol this Friday.

Once she’s received her honorary degree, Fahma Mohamed will be one of the youngest doctorate-holders in the UK.

The gap year high-achiever — who will begin studying for a degree in biomedical science at King’s College, London as of this September — will receive the award in recognition of her tireless campaign work against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Aged just 14, the then City Academy pupil started volunteering with a local charity, Integrate, that campaigns for equality and integration.

She was the face of a nationwide Guardian-supported campaign against FGM that asked Michael Gove — education secretary at the time — to warn teachers about the dangers of the practice, which he agreed to do.

Mohamed also played a leading role in a theatre production about FGM and domestic violence. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon praised Mohamed for her work after he met her, and she went on to win Good Housekeeping’s outstanding young campaigner of the year accolade.

An undeniably impressive list of achievements, and now she’s going to have an honorary doctorate from a Russell Group university law school under her belt.

Unsurprisingly, Mohamed is feeling pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing. Speaking to the Bristol Post, she explained:

I couldn’t believe it when the university told me.

She continued:

I’m quite nervous, but it’ll be nice to have my family there with my friends.

Mohamed will receive her award this week at a ceremony in Wills Memorial Building, home to the university’s law faculty. Also receiving degrees honoris causa from the university is top lawyer, Daniel Schaffer, a partner at commercial giant Herbert Smith Freehills, and Bristol alumna Baroness Primarolo DBE, also a former Labour minister.

Rather controversially, a hundred or so miles north of Bristol, former universities minister David Willetts will be receiving an honorary doctor of laws from the University of Leicester, according to local press reports.

Willetts has been described by The Tab as the man behind the recent tuition-fee hike. The student website reports:

The man who caused university degrees to cost £9,000 — at a very minimum — is due to receive one for free.