The Open University at Sage Gateshead
The Open University holds graduation ceremonies for its students across the UK in a number of regions. Sage Gateshead is the venue for one such event and attracts students from all over the north and even some from further afield who might have relatives nearby or special connections with the city.
On Saturday 24th May this year, over 200 students crossed the stage to receive qualifications ranging from degrees to doctorates, all celebrating many years of hard study usually combined with work, families and sometimes personal challenges such as disability or illness. The graduates dress in traditional academic robes and are supported by family and friends. This year more than 800 proud guests attended. Some celebrate in study groups, especially if they have studied and worked together, having built special bonds over the years.
Sage Gateshead is perfect for the OU graduation ceremonies – its imposing, cavernous structure lends the event a real sense of occasion. The theatre itself looks fantastic when all the graduates are seated in the centre facing a stage of OU dignitaries as they await their turn to cross the platform and receive their award, often to the sound of a family member’s cheers!
Every year the OU interviews several graduates to listen to their study experience and find out more about their personal stories. This year’s interviews uncovered an ex IBM Vice President, Colin Pettit, who had 2 of his innovations developed by Nokia and BMW in the course of his studies. Another, Ian Hall, is now a qualified social worker providing a welfare support service to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. The stories are fascinating and diverse.
Before and after the award ceremony itself, graduates and their guests gather to take advantage of the hospitality afforded by Sage Gateshead, whether it’s with a relaxing cup of tea or accompanied by the pop of a champagne cork.