Retiree aims for PhD after graduating from Staffordshire University

A retired accountant has become a graduate again 45 years after completing his first university degree

Ron Baldwin holding a scroll in his graduation robes

Ron Baldwin has graduated 45 years after completing his first degree

It was really about trying to find something that would keep my brain active as I went into was something that would put some structure to my day, and give me a purpose.

Ron Baldwin, MA International History

Ron Baldwin, 66, from Portsmouth, decided to pursue his passion for history when he retired and enrolled on the MA International History at Staffordshire University “to keep the cogs whirring”.

Ron previously graduated with a degree in Economics and International Politics from Aberystwyth in 1977 then worked as an accountant for the National Coal Board and NATS - the UK’s air traffic control provider.

He explained: “It was really about trying to find something that would keep my brain active as I went into retirement so I wouldn’t end up sitting in front of the TV watching ‘Escape to the Country’ every afternoon! It was something that would put some structure to my day, and give me a purpose.”

“When considering retirement, my wife and I envisaged spending our time playing golf, going to the gym and travelling – all the things you never seemed to have enough time to enjoy when working. Sadly though, before this could happen my wife Christine had a serious stroke which left her disabled and needing care. However, we do look at this positively, rationalising that what we have is just a different life rather than that we were missing out on anything”.

Delivered online, the MA International History provides the flexibility to study anytime, anywhere while still receiving tutor engagement and support.

“Distance learning meant that I could easily study whilst being with and looking after Christine. It was also so much easier and rewarding studying something I enjoyed and that I was doing it for its own sake rather than as a means to an end.”

Using digital platforms, Ron was able to take part in a weekly programme of study and debate key topics with fellow students from around the world.

“With distance learning you’ve got an awful lot of people from different cultural backgrounds and different countries who challenge your views positively and make you look at things differently. It wasn’t just the subject; it was the way we learned that was fascinating.

“Having a broad age range also helps because some of the things we ended up doing on the course weren’t history to me, they were current affairs 30 to 40 year ago! You’ve got a different perspective because you lived through it.”

Ron completed his MA with a distinction and delivered a speech to hundreds of fellow graduates and guests during his graduation ceremony last month. He will continue his journey with Staffordshire University by embarking on a PhD and hopes that other retirees will take inspiration from his story.

He added: “I think that there is a body of potential students being overlooked - people approaching or starting retirement. Maybe it’s someone who has done an initial degree but wonders if they can challenge themselves to do a Masters - or wishes they’d chosen a different subject for their first degree.

“Alternatively, it may be someone who didn’t get the chance to do a degree but would like to use their work and life experience to try their hand at a degree now. In any event, what people like this are looking for is a way of keeping their brain active – keeping the cogs whirring.”

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