Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

84-year-old graduate celebrates PhD

David Dick has collected his PhD from Edinburgh's Napier University at the age of 84
David Dick has collected his PhD from Edinburgh's Napier University at the age of 84

A pensioner thought to be Scotland's oldest graduate is celebrating after collecting a PhD at the age of 84.

Great-grandfather David Dick proved you are never too old to learn as he received his award from Edinburgh's Napier University at the city's Usher Hall.

The Edinburgh-born octogenarian, who left school at 14, said he had overcome generational differences to have a "wonderful" student experience.

He said: "At first I think my fellow students were a bit surprised to see this funny, old guy sitting in their lectures. They were very kind to me though, even when in one lecture this TV show called The X Factor came up - I'd never even heard of it. Of course, apparently it is very popular so that made the rest of the class erupt in fits of laughter."

Dr Dick's latest degree, awarded for his thesis on gender equality in Scottish universities, is the fifth university qualification he has picked up. He also has a masters in history and has published numerous books exploring the origins of Edinburgh's street names.

Born in 1929, Dr Dick was forced to abandon his studies after contracting an acute ear infection at a time when antibiotics were not widely available. Following his recovery, he started work as a telegram boy delivering notices from the war office. The father-of-five went on to complete an apprenticeship and worked as a hydro-power engineer before moving into a career as a lecturer.

He was appointed Napier College's first vice principal in 1965 and later spent 17 years as principal of Edinburgh's Stevenson College. Dr Dick was made an OBE in 1982 for services to education and the fire service, having been chairman of the Fire Services Examination Board in Scotland for 17 years.

He said: "Because I missed out on so much school as a boy, I have always thought of myself as ill-educated. Now I think I can forget about that."

Professor Dame Joan Stringer, principal and vice-chancellor of the university, said: "It is a great pleasure to see David collect his PhD today; a significant achievement proving you are never too old to learn.

"David has lived a remarkable life and his passion for research and history is truly inspiring. I know his lecturers and fellow students hold him in huge esteem."

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