Image: Flickr / Liverpool Hope University

Student at East Sussex College believed to be UK’s oldest graduate

Archie White, a 96 year old student, has been awarded a degree in Fine Art, becoming the oldest ever graduate in the UK.

After retiring at 92, Mr White learned photography, painting, clay modelling, and Photoshop in order to complete his BA course at East Sussex College in Hastings.

Although Mr White said he had enjoyed studying for his degree, he was “not too bothered about being the oldest graduate or not.

In an article posted by the college, he stated: “A friend of mine studied here the year before me, and she was quite enjoying it, so that gave me the idea when I retired as a solicitor to come here and do the BA Fine Art degree.”

“The first year included a series of more or less introductory courses to the fine arts. So we dabbled in photography and making negatives, then we did clay modelling, which was great fun. Then we learned Photoshop, which was fun but not really for me.”

A friend of mine studied here the year before me, and she was quite enjoying it, so that gave me the idea when I retired as a solicitor to come here and do the BA Fine Art degree

– Archie White

Mr White spoke of certain difficulties he had due to a stroke five years ago, like working in a dark room, but expressed his thanks for help from other students and staff.

He has aims to continue his paintings, and plans to create a charity to support graduates.

Mr White added: “If anyone is foolish enough to pay me for my paintings, I shall be amused, but if they don’t, it doesn’t matter.”

“I’ve had a long and enjoyable career, but one of the things I am most concerned about is for most people graduating, there is an inevitability almost of them failing to make a living as an artist, a potter, photographer, or modeller.”

He submitted his final piece of work to the University of Brighton exam board, just missing the record for being the oldest graduate worldwide by 145 days.

The title still remains with Shigemi Hirata, a Japan graduate, who obtained his degree at the age of 96 years and 200 days.

The Fine Art course leader at East Sussex College, Hannah Birkett, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to teach Archie over the last three years. He brings a unique contribution to the course, and his personal development has been extraordinary.”

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