03 Apr 2012

Cultural journalist Maya Jaggi receives OU Honorary Doctorate

Maya Jaggi is honoured today by The Open University for her exceptional contribution to education and culture, with the honorary degree of Doctor of the University. An award-winning cultural journalist, critic and editor, she occupies a unique place in British journalism, and has had a transformative influence in the last 25 years in extending the map of international writing today.

As one of Britain¹s most respected arts journalists, Ms Jaggi writes for The Guardian, Financial Times, The Independent, The Economist and Newsweek, among other publications. She is also an accomplished presenter and broadcaster, contributing to the BBC and featuring on the panel for Radio 4’s Any Questions?

Among her impressive list of interviewees are 12 Nobel laureates, including Gunter Grass, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jose Saramago and Toni Morrison, and writers from Chinua Achebe and Umberto Eco to Tom Stoppard. Interviewed by her in 1999, Professor Edward Said praised the resulting profile as ‘in a class of its own’. As important are the less well-known figures she has highlighted, such as Orhan Pamuk (before his Nobel Prize) and WG Sebald.

On receiving her honorary degree Maya Jaggi said: "It's a great honour to have my work as a cultural journalist recognised by The Open University - an institution whose ethos is as global as my own, and which rests on the shared idea that we're all lifelong learners."

Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University said: ''I am delighted to welcome Maya Jaggi as an Honorary Doctor of The Open University for her exceptional work in the literary world. She has interviewed some of the world's leading figures and made an outstanding contribution to literature and the arts. Maya's work shapes opinion and has had a huge impact on how we view the face of journalism today."

Ms Jaggi acknowledged her maternal aunt, the actor and cookery writer Madhur Jaffrey, as an example in forging a career path where none existed before.

Ms Jaggi is on the judging panels this year of both the Man Asian Literary Prize and the Caine Prize, and has judged past awards including the Orange, Commonwealth Writers, Banipal and David Cohen prizes. She wrote and presented the BBC TV documentary Isabel Allende: The Art of Reinvention, and holds degrees from Oxford University and the London School of Economics.

The ceremony will take place at the Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2.


About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the largest higher education institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.7 million students and has more than 264,000 current students, including 20,000 overseas, learning in their own time using course materials, online activities and content, web-based forums and tutorials and through tutor groups and residential schools.

The OU has been highly rated for teaching quality, and has been at the top of student satisfaction rankings in the National Student Survey since it was introduced in 2005. 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and three out of four FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

The OU supports a vibrant research portfolio and in the UK's latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008), the University climbed 23 places to 43rd, securing a place in the UK's top 50 higher education institutions.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 20 million visitors, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 47 million downloads. The OU has a 40 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, Stargazing Live and Protecting Our Children.


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