Duncan Wright is launching into his Open University (OU) Masters degree in Astrophysics and Space Science – with an OU MSc in Science already under his belt.
The 42-year-old is excited to continue his postgraduate studies, having recently crossed the stage at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to collect his first OU degree.
Of that achievement, he says: “I wish I had discovered The Open University sooner, but this has been a personal goal of mine for at least 25 years and it allows me more prospects to further my academic studies and career which is something I thoroughly enjoy."
A former laboratory technician at a college, Duncan prepared experiments and materials for science classes.
“I have wanted to continue my education since I graduated with my Bachelor of Science honours degree in Biochemistry and Microbiology in 2005 from a traditional campus-based university," he says, "but have been beset with a number of health difficulties and been unable to access further education at other institutions.
Being able to study at a distance with my particular disabilities was very appealing."
“Having received a third class honours degree, other universities were not interested in accepting me due to their entry requirements and being able to study at a distance with my particular disabilities was very appealing to me anyway.
“My career prospects have improved dramatically and I am actually now studying another degree with The Open University to even further expand my academic ventures.
“I am very much looking forward to what I can achieve in this area of science now.”
Duncan is from Glasgow and volunteered at the Commonwealth Games previously held in the city.
He self-funded his Masters of Science as well as taking out a postgraduate tuition fee loan.
His health conditions include severe chronic fatigue – which led to him dropping out of an initial university in 1998 – as well as tinnitus, and high functioning autism. The OU’s accessibility was an important factor for Duncan. He says:
There is a wonderful support structure within The Open University."
“I found The Open University when browsing different institutions online and through their website I was able to find out all the information about my course, apply and begin studying very quickly."
He began his first OU qualification in 2020 and juggled his home-based studies with wider challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. His academic experience was ultimately an enjoyable and rewarding one.
“There is a wonderful support structure within The Open University,” says Duncan, “that enables you to achieve even the most daunting of tasks so always reach out if you ever start to find anything difficult or are struggling.”
“Acquiring another degree has been a personal goal of mine for a very long time. I feel I had grown stagnant, but a wonderful person came into my life a couple of years before I started my degree with The Open University and she encouraged me to fulfil that dream.
“I realised that nothing ever truly left me. I realised that if I just started moving towards that goal and if it was something I truly love, then anything is possible.”
His degree ceremony was a “friendly and happy” occasion, and Duncan notes, “It was really enjoyable that this was a celebration of the passion and motivation to succeed and overcome any personal difficulties in life that every graduate who attended was congratulated for.”
Duncan was delighted to be joined at the event by his parents, both of whom had needed to isolate for health reasons in recent years and were on their first post-pandemic outing.
Photo by Julie Howden