University of Leicester eBulletin

Meeting the Challenge

July 2002
No 150

When Brian Lewis took early retirement and decided to keep his mind active by taking a full-time undergraduate degree he knew it would be a challenge – and it was.  

But he also found it immensely rewarding, and three years later is about to graduate with a first class degree in Archaeology from the University of Leicester.

Brian left school just before he was sixteen, having achieved half a dozen GCE O Levels. For most of his working life he was with the Nat West Bank, until he took early retirement four years ago.

Brian explained: “Before I left the bank I had started a certificate course in archaeology at Vaughan College, one night a week. On the strength of that I got a place on the BA Archaeology course at the University.

“I chose Archaeology because I’d always been interested in things historical, and I heard about the course from a friend. Knowing I was coming up for early retirement I wanted something to keep the brain cells working and which would provide an opportunity to do something completely different.

Full-time education after years of employment was strange at first.   “It was a bit like the mental equivalent of doing violent physical exercise for the first time in years,” he said.  He has no regrets:   “quite apart from getting the degree it’s opened up a whole new world.   I met a lot of interesting people both in University and outside and I have taken part in some interesting excavations. The academic staff have been brilliant and provided tremendous support.   The student mix was good, I thought there would be very few mature students on the course and wondered how the younger students would react to us.   I think they thought we were a strange breed at first, then after a short while you just became another student and we all worked together very well.

“It’s been great. I would recommend anyone facing early retirement to consider a university course”

Now Brian Lewis has acquired a taste for higher education, in September he is about to start a Masters degree in Landscape Studies at the University of Leicester.

He said:  “Because of the age I am it’s unlikely I will follow a paid career path in archaeology, so I would like to concentrate on the research side and see how far I can progress.”

NOTE TO EDITORS:   Brian Lewis will receive the degree of BA (Hons) Archaeology, on Friday 12 July at 3 pm at the De Montfort Hall, Leicester.

Further information is available through the University of Leicester Press Office, telephone 0116 252 2415, facsimile 0116 252 2485, email

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