Today, 29 September 2023, a total of 700 graduates are crossing the stage to collect their degrees from The Open University (OU) at two graduation ceremonies in Glasgow, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Among them are 650 undergraduates and 50 postgraduates. Half of the graduates at the ceremonies were the first in their families to study at Higher Education level. 30% of graduates at the ceremonies declared a disability and 10% had entered the OU without standard university-level qualifications.
The youngest graduate on the day is just 21 years old, while the oldest is 82. Also among the graduates are a married couple, two brothers and a father and son.
Inverclyde husband and wife David and Amy Wingar (pictured) have each qualified with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Health and Social Care degree. The couple juggled gaining their degrees with David’s type 1 diabetes, the Covid-19 pandemic, IVF (in vitro fertilisation) treatment and raising their two-year-old son.
Former nanny Amy (34) hopes to work with the NHS in future, and says: “I am so proud of both of us. It's been a long hard road to get here. David and I are a real team and to be celebrating this day together really is the icing on the cake.”
David (37) follows his gran who did a Master of Arts in Religious Studies with the OU in the 1970s. He has dyslexia, and says: “To finally attain a degree qualification is a big personal goal. It has really helped me believe in myself.”
Brothers Jordi and Juan Pla Vanegas started their studies during the Covid-19 lockdown and have now each graduated with an Open University (OU) Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Social Psychology. The Cambuslang pair both studied for free with the Part-Time Fee Grant.
Jordi (25) is a warehouse operator and chose the OU “because of the online classes method that allowed me to study and keep on working full time and the good reviews the university has. English is not our first language so it was a little bit more challenging but still a lot more rewarding. I’m so happy me and my brother were able to get this far and finally graduated together.”
Liam Kerr, MSP for North East, collects his Bachelor of Arts with Honours degree on the day. He previously studied a number of other courses and degrees at the OU since 2009, including a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and a course on Crime and Justice.
Liam Kerr said: “The reality is that it is one of the key unique selling points of OU study that you study whenever and wherever suits. Be that during travel, late at night, early morning, or whatever… When studying and after the criminal course, I was Shadow Justice Secretary!”
Nurse Nicola Hehir, aged 36 and from Carluke in South Lanarkshire, had always wanted to become a qualified nurse, but circumstances throughout her life meant she didn’t have the opportunity to go to university. She said: “I realised the OU BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult) degree was the opportunity that suited me. I could remain in employment, continue working within a team I value, while also progressing towards my life goal of qualifying as a nurse. Now I have achieved my qualification I am excited about my future as a nurse.”
Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland, said: “The OU welcomes students of all ages and backgrounds; there’s no such thing as a typical OU student. But what they all have in common is that they have hugely busy lives. They fit their study in along with family, work and all sorts of other responsibilities, often with many challenges. This is what makes our graduation celebrations so special.
“Today’s wonderful graduates join more than 200,000 people who’ve studied with the OU in Scotland in the 54 years since our foundation and it’s a pleasure to be able to welcome them to the OU family.”
The graduates are also joined by Raza Sadiq (pictured right) who receives an Honorary Degree for his contribution to community and inclusion. Sadiq is the founder of the Active Life Club, a charity promoting inclusion through the life-changing power of sport.
Raza Sadiq said: “I am deeply grateful for this profound honour. This award not only connects me to the Open University family but also unites us through shared values and a collective commitment to making the world a better place.
"I hope my journey will serve as an inspiration, a reminder that challenges can be overcome, and that each one of you has the potential to etch your mark on the lives of others.”
29 September 2023