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Killie player nets first class honours

OU graduate Calum Waters pictured in a graduation gown and holding a degree scroll.

Kilmarnock footballer Calum Waters has scored his greatest personal goal off the pitch, achieving a First Class Honours degree from the Open University while playing full-time for the Scottish Premiership Club.

The 26-year-old defender has graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) Sport, Fitness and Coaching degree at The Open University (OU) Glasgow Degree Ceremony.

He said of his achievement: “I feel very proud that I managed to gain a degree while playing full time football and I would recommend the OU to anyone that is potentially looking to help get the job you always dreamed of.”

Calum studied through a period when he made 20 appearances on the pitch as Kilmarnock won the Scottish Championship in 2022.

Kilmarnock footballer and OU graduate Calum Waters pictured during a match.With training in the morning, he fitted in study in the afternoons.

“At times it was challenging when you’ve had a hard day at training.

“For the first three years, I studied from my bed in my family home and it used to be littered with books every afternoon.

“And recently, moving into my own house, I studied from the kitchen table.

“I kept my motivation as this was a big goal in my life to gain a degree and when at times football wasn’t going to plan then studying offered a good distraction.”

Calum from Glasgow has previously played for Celtic, Dumbarton, Alloa Athletic, Sligo Rovers and St Mirren, and he has had stints as both a part-time player and full-time player as well as a year at college.

He always kept in mind future job security and life beyond the pitch having previously gained a HNC at New College Lanarkshire in Coaching and Developing Sport.

Being able to transfer existing college credits towards his degree and study with the OU while on a full-time contract was a winning prospect.

He says: “I realised the importance of getting a further education. When I managed to get back into full-time football with Kilmarnock FC, I knew I needed an avenue to keep my studies going and the OU provided this. 

“I chose the OU due to their reputation of being “experts” in distance and online learning which was what I needed at this time of my life with being in full-time football.

“The degree has given me a wider range of knowledge regarding sport and fitness which I could apply within my own job and helped me understand why my coaches would do certain things.

“I would like to stay in sport after my career finishes. Coaching as well as education is something that interests me.”

Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland, said:

“The same focus and determination that Calum demonstrates on the pitch shines through in his commitment to his degree. His story is a fantastic example of how you can combine Open University study with work and other aspects of your life. 

“More than three quarters of our students in Scotland work full-time or part-time while studying with us. It is very flexible, you don’t need previous qualifications, and you can enrol for one module at a time, choosing whether or not to build up a certificate, diploma, or degree.”

Calum funded his degree through the Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA), “where I was able to pay my modules in affordable monthly payments”, and he was also given help from union PFA Scotland – the Professional Footballers’ Association - with their educations grants.

Graduation photo by Mick McGurk

3 November 2022


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