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University thanks inspirational research students who prove it’s never too late to learn


Inspirational University of Wolverhampton doctoral students - with an average of 72 – have been honoured with a special afternoon tea.

With a combined age of 1,008, the 14 students all prove it’s never too late to learn.

Philip Owen, the oldest at 85, was a technical director for the Coal Power Association and has been studying the utilisation of waste materials or industrial by-products in construction applications.

He has overcome dyslexia to forge ahead with his studies and said: “I would tell people: ‘if you feel up to it, go for it’. It has been a great privilege to study my PhD.”

Michael Hardman, 70, achieved a First in the University's BA Hons War Studies degree before completing a Masters at Birmingham then embarking on his PhD in History. He said: "The University has exceeded my expectations. The staff are really first rate - it is excellent."

And Former RAF air crew and ex-barrister Ron Gadd, 82, is researching a PhD in History: combat fatigue and morale in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War. He said: "I like to study and always have done. The only thing that stops me studying is golf! Being a mature student is a really good experience."

At a special afternoon tea last week, Vice-Chancellor Professor Geoff Layer told all the PhD students: "I'm absolutely in awe of what you have been doing. It is a fantastic achievement to be learning and carry on with your learning. You've brought so much vibrancy to what we do."

Dean of Research Professor John Darling said: "We are the University of Opportunity and we will provide opportunities for anybody at every stage of their life and career to support what they want to do."

Dr Debra Cureton, Researcher Development Manager, added: ““We wanted to bring this group of people together to celebrate what is essentially a demonstration of  lifelong learning at its most apparent, and thank them for the their contributions, the experience and the wisdom which they have brought to the research community at the University of Wolverhampton.”


Photo shows (front L-R) Dean of Research Professor John Darling with Philip Owen alongside staff and fellow mature PhD students.

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