From age 18 to 81, this year hundreds of our students - at all stages of life - have celebrated achieving their degrees. The wide range of ages shows the OU welcomes everyone to study, at any age and time of life.
Teenager celebrates degree
Among the delighted graduates this year was 18-year-old Imran Nasim from Surrey. Imran was young at the time of beginning his studies, aged just 14, but was no beginner to learning. He had a good set of GCSEs and A-levels, including maths and chemistry before stepping up to degree level.
“I was 14 when I started. I just knew physics was what I wanted to study. Thanks to the OU’s open and inclusive entry system, where no set qualifications are needed, I was able to apply.
"Very professional" tutors
“I had been home schooled by my dad and I studied while playing tennis and touring the world with my brother, a junior professional tennis player. I was doing A-level papers in physics.”
Imran described it as a “natural progression” to apply to do an OU degree in Mathematics and Physics. He attended tutorials and found his tutors “very professional”, and he enjoyed rubbing shoulders with students much older than himself.
After receiving his degree recently at a ceremony in Brighton, Imran is now settling down to more study with a PhD in physics at the University of Surrey (researching astrophysics and gravitational waves). He’d like to go on to achieve an academic career in research.
A degree, age 81
Maureen Topley from Essex, who is 81, found herself among much younger students when she studied for her BA in Humanities with Art History. The retired nurse and grandmother said her love of painting sparked her desire to study the subject in greater detail and she embarked on a degree later in life.
“The Open University was the only way I could do it. I found it challenging, emotionally too. And I could not have done it without my husband Tom, my children and my whole family,” she said.
She too praised the “fantastic tutors” she encountered who she said “made every course interesting”.
She hopes to attend a degree ceremony in 2018 and continues to paint landscapes and portraits for her family.
A nagging desire for a degree
Family was also the inspiration for radio sports journalist Steve Lee, who realised a long-held ambition to finally achieve his degree, after giving up his studies as a teenager to follow his dreams.
The former Midlands Today and Sky Sports reporter, was the first in his family to go to university 47 years ago, but left after two terms to follow his dreams. A successful career in journalism followed, but the nagging desire to complete his studies did not go away.
"The OU was my way back and this time I did complete that history degree, inspired by my late mum Olive.
"She was a tough Londoner who believed in education as she herself was stopped from going to art school by her parents. She never told me she was disappointed I gave up first time, but she would have been delighted that I got there in the end.”
Steve, age 65, completed his degree in six years and gained a 2:1 in History. He will receive his degree at a ceremony at Birmingham Symphony Hall later this month. His children have followed his lead to study at university.
"Huge achievement - at any age"
Mary Kirby, Director Academic Services at The Open University, said studying with The Open University is something which is open to all, no matter what age.
"The OU is the largest academic institution in the UK with almost 170,000 students from all ages and are at different stages of life, many of whom juggle work and families at the same time.
"At whatever age you gain your degree, it is a huge achievement and we congratulate Imran, Maureen and Steve and all those who have earned their degrees this year."