The president and his ministers no longer will be able to hire as advisors or associates people who do not possess a university degree recognised by the state. A law, setting out the criteria for these appointments prepared by the government, under pressure from the auditor-general, was approved by the legislature on Thursday and made possession of such a degree a requirement.

This means that the contracts of four such advisors – two at the presidency and two at the deputy ministry of shipping – will have to be terminated as the House rejected an amendment that would affect only new appointments. Legal action against the state by the affected individuals for this shabby treatment is inevitable as they would have their contracts terminated for terms unilaterally changed after these had been signed.

There is a broader issue – the requirement of a university degree for anyone to be appointed as an advisor on a limited term contract – which is based on the idiotic assumption that only university graduates are qualified to work as advisors to the president and a minister. Is the possession of a university degree a safeguard against ineptitude or a guarantee of intelligence? Of course not, so why has this discriminatory criterion been included?

It is not as if these advisors perform tasks requiring specialised knowledge that is only acquired through university study? For example, the idea that someone with 20 years’ experience of working in the shipping sector, but without a degree, would be disqualified from being an advisor to the deputy minister of shipping is absurd. Even more absurd is that the law would consider someone with a third-class degree in sociology or PR and no experience of shipping as better-qualified for this job.

The requirement of a degree was imposed by the auditor-general, although he has no expertise on issues of human resources or in evaluating qualifications. And he is deluding himself if he thinks that the requirement of a degree would limit the nepotism that is a feature of these appointments. All that is achieved is to restrict the nepotism to graduates, who are not necessarily more capable, honest, hard-working and intelligent than people that did not go to university.

This is discrimination against non-graduates based on prejudice rather than any meaningful criteria. It is the antithesis of equal opportunities. The job of advisor does not require academic qualifications in the way an applicant to a law firm or an architect’s office is necessary. For example someone who has worked in the media for 20 years is better-suited to offer a minister communications advice than an inexperienced media studies graduate, yet the law excludes the former.

Experience and a proven professional record means nothing if a person has no degree, according to the irrational law imposed by the auditor-general and adopted by the government. It is unacceptable for such blatant discrimination to be enshrined in law.