Retirees keep fit by degrees
"WHEN working life wanes and it comes time to feed the soul, only the humanities provide the required nutrition." So says the vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, Steven Schwartz, about students who return to study in retirement.
"WHEN working life wanes and it comes time to feed the soul, only the humanities provide the required nutrition." So says the vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, Steven Schwartz, about students who return to study in retirement.Older age certainly did not diminish David and Colleen Walsh's yearning to engage in world affairs.At 75, David, a former sales representative, and Colleen, then a 71-year-old retired teacher, signed up to a masters of international studies degree program. With that completed, the pair, who are now 84 and 80, set out to attain their master of international relations. After countless essays and exams over nine years, and weekly drives from their home at Ocean Shores on the NSW north coast to Brisbane's Griffith University, the couple graduated last year and garnered thunderous applause."When we walked across the stage to receive our degrees from the vice-chancellor, everyone stood up and clapped - we'll never forget it," said David, who, with Colleen, has not ruled out a third degree."There are just so many reasons to study later in life and one of them is to keep an active mind. Our classes were so stimulating, partly because we formed remarkable relationships with people from many countries - and that helps create a different view of the world."They attended formal lectures but thousands of their peers are driving the global education movement known as the "university of the third age". Underpinned by the principle of healthy ageing through life-long learning, the "U3A" trend is often run by volunteer tutors and courses have no entrance requirements or exams.At Macquarie, the most popular U3A courses are ancient history, Egyptology and creative writing."Not once have I encountered a retiree at graduation ceremonies whose return to university was driven by a passion for accounting or marketing or business administration," Professor Schwartz said.