Berlusconi gets embroiled in controversy after daughter's graduation

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London, July 25 (ANI): Silvio Berlusconi's scandal-prone life has touched off yet another controversy, this time because of his daughter.

Barbara, the Italian Premier's eldest daughter by his second marriage, was recently awarded her philosophy degree by the San Raffaele Life-Health University at a ceremony in Milan, after she submitted a dissertation on the concepts of well-being, freedom and justice in the work of the Nobel prize-winning Indian-origin economist, Amartya Sen.

She graduated with 110 e lode (the equivalent in Italy of a starred first-class degree).

However, it all turned bitter for Berlusconi after a professor at Barbara's university went public with claims that the chancellor wanted to secure funding from the Italian Prime Minister by promising his daughter a teaching post.

According to Roberta de Monticelli, chair of philosophy of the person at San Raffaele, after declaring the results, chancellor Luigi Verz‚ asked Barbara Berlusconi "if she thought a faculty of economics could be founded at the San Raffaele based on the thinking of the author on which she had written her thesis, and inviting her to become a teacher".

De Monticelli said the chancellor's offer was a violation of the rights of the other four graduates at the ceremony and "the ethical requirements of an elite university institution such as the San Raffaele rightly aspires to be".

However, the university has tried to come clean on the controversy insisting that "it certainly was not an offer of work, let alone [an act of] discrimination towards the other graduates".

But appearing on an interview De Monticelli described the chancellor's remarks as an "implicit request for funding".

She also suggested that she had been excluded from the panel that examined the candidates on their dissertations.

"The first candidate was programmed for 9.30am. My presence on the panel, however, was scheduled from 10am onwards. I understood then that the first [candidate] was going to be Barbara Berlusconi," The Guardian quoted De Monticelli, as saying.

The professor said she had asked to see the thesis written by Barbara "but there were no more copies".

However, the head of her faculty and the acting vice-chancellor have come forward to Barbara's defence. They noted that, even before she submitted her dissertation, she had accumulated 10 distinctions and almost 100 per cent marks.

They dismissed the chancellor's remarks as "a paternal quip". (ANI)

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