The Employment and Learning Minister has paid tribute to the Open University for its role in producing skilled graduates.
Speaking at the Open University graduation ceremony, Dr Stephen Farry said: "The higher education sector in Northern Ireland is central to the future development of the region's economy. I recognise the critical role our local institutions, including the Open University, play in producing graduates with the skills to meet new economic opportunities."
Pro Vice-Chancellor of the university, Professor Tim Blackman, handed out degrees to 155 people, including its first cohort of social work graduates in Northern Ireland, at Belfast's Waterfront Hall on Saturday.
Among those graduating was James Smith from Portrush, who decided to go back to formal study after a break of 13 years.