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The Open University in Scotland has granted disability equalities campaigner, Tressa Burke an Honorary Doctorate for her work towards improving access to education for disabled people and her passionate commitment to social inclusion, social justice and public services.

The prestigious honour was granted to Burke in a ceremony at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on 20 June. Burke was joined by 600 graduates receiving their degrees at the same time, in the first in-person graduation ceremony by The Open University in Scotland since 2019.

Burke is a founding member and Chief Executive Officer of the Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA), which connects disabled people with each other, with opportunities and with decision makers. By recognising their talents and strengths, GDA supports disabled people to be leaders in their own lives.

Burke also lends her expertise and experience to a variety of other organisations. She serves on the Wider Action Committee of New Gorbals Housing Association, supporting and providing advice around plans to widen participation and inclusion for local people. She is a trustee of Self Directed Support Scotland, which works to ensure that disabled people exercise choice and control over social care services and have the independent support needed. And she serves as an advisor to both Glasgow City Government and the Scottish Government, contributing to a number of expert advisory groups, including the First Minister’s National Advisory Council for Women and Girls.

Burke commented: “I am sincerely honoured to be receiving recognition from The Open University because it is such a unique and exceptional institution, sharing Glasgow Disability Alliance’s passion for tackling inequalities and injustice and making learning accessible for all.

“Both organisations are mission driven and share an ethos of being committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and to tackling barriers which prevent disadvantaged people from accessing learning. By making learning accessible, both GDA and the OU ensure that those facing inequalities are supported to fulfil their potential.

“I’ve seen from many disabled people that accessing learning is transformational so I couldn’t be prouder to become part of the OU family which changes people’s lives in this way every day.”

Director of the OU in Scotland, Susan Stewart, who awarded Burke with her Honorary Doctorate, added: “At The Open University, we share Tressa’s commitment to social inclusion and participation, and her belief in the importance of access to lifelong learning and education for the disabled community. The OU was founded on the principle that higher education should be open to everyone and we’re proud to have more disabled students than the rest of the higher education sector combined.

“Tressa has devoted her career to bettering the lives of disabled people. In support of her incredible work, we’re thrilled to be honouring her achievements and officially welcoming her to the OU.”

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