A pensioner has proved that it is never too late to enter higher education after completing a research degree in waste management at The University of Northampton.
Ernie Sharp, aged 88, who left school without any formal qualifications, joined hundreds of students, most more than 50 years younger than him, at a graduation ceremony yesterday.
Mr Sharp, who lives in London, completed a distance learning course which enabled him to send in his research via email but he also attended seminars in Northampton with other students during his two-year research project.
He said: “I’m very pleased with myself. I enjoyed doing the research degree. It was refreshing and encouraging and I learnt so much.
“It was a completely new experience for me to do something so academic. I found the most difficult part was learning what not to put in as I was accused of doing too much work. I’m more of a practical person so it was hard to become used to academia but I learned an awful lot and my professor guided me through.
“If I can do it with my background than it proves it’s never too late to stop learning.”
Mr Sharp, who is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management (CIWM), retired from his role as assistant general manager of Greater London Council’s waste disposal section in 1983.
His first degree was set up as a pilot scheme between CIWM and The University of Northampton to encourage non-degree holders to pursue higher education.
Professor Paul Phillips, Ernie’s supervisor, said: “The quality of his mind has not diminished despite his age. The quality of his work was superb and I think I learnt more from him than he did from me.”
Mr Sharp joined hundreds of other students from the School of Social Sciences during the ceremony in Park Campus.
Northampton Chronicle and Echo