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Open Eye: OU's 10,000 new alumni

Nearly 10,000 OU students throughout the UK and around the world have now been notified that they have qualified for Bachelor and post- graduate degrees.

They range in age from 18 to 85, meaning that some of the youngest- ever OU graduates will be among those receiving degrees at the 26 graduation ceremonies being held this year between April and September.

It is difficult to define 'typical' OU graduates, but a statistical profile of the latest alumni shows that they are most commonly aged between 25 and 40, and have usually been employed while completing their studies.

About a quarter of those about to receive Bachelor degrees already had an equivalent qualification, which indicates that the OU is playing a significant role in achieving the Government's aim of promoting 'lifelong learning'.

Many graduates returned to study because they needed new skills and knowledge to advance their careers or to pursue new ones. Others simply sought to expand personal interests.

Another quarter completed their degrees without the A-levels normally required for conventional universities, showing that after 30 years the OU continues to broaden access and remove barriers to higher education.

OU Vice-Chancellor Sir John Daniel congratulated the new graduates on their achievements, describing them as the "living proof of the benefits of this unique university".

He said: "Graduates' stories are an annual reminder of how education enriches people's lives. Their fulfilment is just reward for their hard work, and I'm proud that the OU has created a path to life-long higher education that might otherwise have been blocked by the demands of work and personal commitments."

This year, in addition to degree ceremonies, new graduates will be able for the first time to celebrate their success at a series of Graduation Dinners throughout the UK and abroad.

You don't even need to dine where you graduate (or graduated). If your ceremony is in Ely, but you fancy eating in Singapore, say, or California, or Newcastle upon Tyne, that option is open to you.

The first OU dinner for graduates in the US will be held at The Kellogg House - a mansion built by the cereal magnate on his stud farm in Pomona, California, on 23 April. The Singapore dinner will be at the Westin Plaza on 12 July (not 13 July).

Previous graduates and guests are welcome too, and people interested in attending can contact the Alumni Association on 01908 655751.

Details about studying with the Open University are available from the enquiries centre on 01908 653231, on the Web at http://www.open.ac.uk.

On Sunday, 21 March the AOUG hosts a guided tour of London theatres. Starts 2.30pm outside the Theatre Museum and includes tea at the Mountbatten Hotel. Cost pounds 6.75 pp. Members, families and friends welcome. To reserve a place call George Beynon on 0121 308 0489.