Hundreds receive degrees from Open University
Almost 300 Open University students have received their degrees in the biggest ceremony ever held by the institution in the north.
Baroness Nuala O'Loan was awarded the degree of Doctor of the University for her exceptional contribution to the legal profession, her work as Police Ombudsman and contribution to social development in Northern Ireland.
John Neeson from Sion Mills, Co Tyrone, received his qualification in BSc (Honours) in International Studies, after 15 years and two degrees later with the OU.
Coming from a large family in the north-west, Mr Neeson had to leave school to earn money for the household. However, he decided to make a change after reading about the benefits of studying with OU. Even having to travel four hours a day for work, he completed his degree alongside his career.
"I have come a long way in my educational travels since my first day at school in 1972 and I am so grateful to The Open University for giving me the opportunity to achieve these qualifications," he said.
John D'Arcy, director of OU in Northern Ireland, said people chose to study with the university for numerous reasons.
The flexible, part-time, online higher education provided, in science, arts and humanities, languages, business, social sciences and health, he said, enabled people to balance studies around other important commitments including work, family or caring responsibilities.
"Students that live outside of our main towns and cities and cannot easily access a university campus, often choose to study with the OU because our distance-learning methods are easily accessible - from virtual classrooms to personal study apps, in addition to some local face-to-face tutorials. Indeed, we have students in every constituency area across Northern Ireland," he said.
"The Open University has been increasing access to education for over four decades, enabling people, regardless of their previous educational attainment or personal circumstances, to fulfil their potential. All that is needed is a desire to learn, and that desire is evident in the hundreds of thousands of people who have earned degrees and diplomas with The Open University since its formation in 1969."