A MAN aged 96 has thought to have become the oldest ever university graduate in the UK.

Archie White has graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in fine art from East Sussex College in Hastings.

Born in 1925, Mr White worked as a solicitor up to the age of 92 before a passion for painting gave him the urge to try something new.

He started his degree in 2018 and began learning new skills including painting, photography, pottery and even Photoshop, which he says "was not for me".

Mr White graduated just 145 days short of the world record for the oldest university graduate – a feat held by a Japanese graduate who was 96 years and 200 days old.

The new graduate recently exhibited his final project paintings at the end of year art degree show to round off his final year of studies.

Mr White said he was inspired to do the degree after a close friend studied at the college the previous year.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed studying here, and the experiences have been fascinating, but learning Photoshop left me dazed,” he said.

“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.

"I shall carry on painting now that I have finished. If anyone is foolish enough to pay me for my paintings, I shall be amused, but if they don’t, it doesn’t matter.”

The artist had a stroke five years ago, limiting certain abilities including not coping well in the dark.

“When I was required to work in the dark room, I found it difficult,” he said. “But I was helped enormously by the staff and the other pupils.”

Mr White said he has concerns for most graduates that most art graduates fail to make a living as an artist.

"That is why I am planning to create a charity to support graduates,” he added.

“I am waiting for final clearance from the charity commission to run the charity at East Sussex College Hastings so that people who graduate are not lost.

"With the support of the college and the charity, graduates will be able to utilise the college facilities and resources to create work and start their careers.”

His course leader at East Sussex College Hannah Birkett said it was a pleasure teaching Mr White over the three year degree.

“He brings a unique contribution to the course, and his personal development has been extraordinary,” she said.

“Archie has refined his painting practice in a supportive, diverse year group, and has been an active contributor to discussion and debate.

"We have thoroughly enjoyed working with him, and wish him all the best for the future.”