Pensioner begins third degree since retirement

Douglas Munro graduated at the Capital's Usher Hall at the weekend. Picture: Greg Macvean
Douglas Munro graduated at the Capital's Usher Hall at the weekend. Picture: Greg Macvean
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HE’S the eternal student you might mistake for a distinguished don.

Peppy pensioner Douglas Munro, 76, has swapped crosswords and bingo for the rigours of the exam hall after beginning his third degree since retirement. The grandad-of-three, who left school at 16 with few qualifications, is now set to study until the ripe old age of 82 – becoming one of only a handful of octogenarians ever to graduate in Scotland.

A former tour guide operator, Mr Munro can’t want to get his marks back from essays on any of his subjects which include Classics and now humanities.

The Braid Hills resident, who studies via Open University’s distance learning course, received his second degree – a Bachelor of Arts – at a special ceremony at Usher Hall last weekend. But he will waste no time launching into his third.

Mr Munro said: “Some people plan their retirement but I don’t play things like golf – this seemed like a good thing, especially because I had never done it before.

“With the Open University, you get an exam at the end of each year and it’s in proper exam conditions, in a big hall with invigilators.

“You have to hand-write for three hours, which is tough. 1953 would have been the last time I did that – when I was at school. But the Open University is very good and I keep thinking, ‘I’m doing this for pleasure’. If the pleasure goes, I will stop.”

The mature scholar said there was nothing better than waking up to the thought of a day’s study, especially if test results are due.

“It’s getting the marks back at the end of your assignments – that gives you something to look forward to.” he said.

“I’m waiting for the exam results for the first year of my new degree to come in August – it’s a case of hanging by the door for the post to arrive.

“I like that. What do you do after breakfast? Do you get up and just sit around? My wife is an artist – she goes into her studio and paints and I go into my room to study. Then we get together at meal times and talk about what we’ve been working on.

“I was delighted to have this second chance to learn and I have enjoyed the scope of the Open University’s courses and the teaching material and methods on hand.”

OU bosses – who are marking the 40th anniversary of the university’s first graduations in Scotland – said it was “great” to see Douglas complete his course. Dr James Miller, OU director in Scotland, said: “Since 1974, tens of thousands of people have taken advantage of the flexibility offered by the Open University in Scotland.

“It’s great to see graduates from all over Scotland, including Edinburgh, marking this 40th anniversary milestone.”

The OU, which is based in Milton Keynes, was established in 1969 and its first students enrolled in January 1971.

johnpaul.holden@jpress.co.uk