U.S. businessman Donald Trump smiles during a ceremony in which he was awarded an honorary degree, at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen October 8, 2010.
U.S. businessman Donald Trump smiles during a ceremony in which he was awarded an honorary degree, at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen October 8, 2010.REUTERS

A Scottish university is considering stripping Donald Trump of an honorary degree after a petition signed by thousands of people accused him of "hate speech". The Republican has caused widespread condemnation for statements made while campaigning to become the next US president, including recently calling for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States".

More than 6,000 people have now demanded Trump be stripped of a Doctorate of Business Administration awarded by Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University (RGU) in 2010. Many signatories have left comments describing Trump as a "disgrace" and even calling for him to be banned from entering the UK. One person wrote: "He speaks like someone with no education and that's why he's not worthy of even being given a GCSE."

The university said it awarded the degree in recognition of Trump's achievement in "business and entrepreneurship", as well as for investments he made in the north-east of Scotland. At the time, Trump said it was "a great university and a great honour".

But the petition suggested it was an insult and called for Trump's degree to be immediately revoked. It said: "We feel that Donald Trump's unrepentant, persistent verbal attacks on various groups of people based on nationality, religion, race and physical abilities are a huge detriment to RGU.

"Hate speech must not have a place in academia, in politics or on the world stage. We are confident RGU will agree with the petitioners, and act swiftly."

The awarding of Trump's doctorate was also controversial at the time and led to the university's former principal, Dr David Kennedy, handing back his own honorary degree in protest. He told the BBC the decision to honour Trump was "an insult to decent people everywhere", saying he should "not be held up as an example of how to conduct business".

Now, more than five years later, the RGU says it will consider stripping Trump of the degree. A spokesman for the university said: "Mr Trump's honorary degree was awarded in 2010. Business and entrepreneurship are key areas of focus for the university, and Mr Trump is recognised for these activities (including his investment in the north-east of Scotland).

"This award was made prior to the appointment of RGU's current Principal, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, who is considering the position. He is totally committed to equality of opportunity and to respect for different cultures, values which are an important part of RGU's ethos."