Honours and awards: Honorary Doctor of Music from Ansted University

Ansted University was founded in 1999 and chartered in the British Virgin Islands as a private international university. From the outset its focus was on the delivery of education on a nonprofit basis via distance learning. Ansted is an acronym standing for A Noble System of Technology for Educational Development.

The University was supported by the Ansted Foundation, whose focus was on supporting Ansted University financially in the area of project development funding including campus set-up funding, grant programmes for research studies and publications.

The Foundation and the University subscribed to the following aims:

  • Activities that increase mutual understanding and tolerance for diversity
  • Activities that sustain the vitality of artistic traditions in changing contexts
  • Activities that aim to preserve, document or increase public access to tangible and intangible culture
  • Activities that address common problems requiring international cooperation etc.
  • To promote World Peace through cultivating of Social Responsibility practice
  • To promote centres of excellence and knowledge corridors and entrepreneurship in education, training and research

The University established Ansted University Asia Regional Service Center in Penang, Malaysia. This office co-ordinated Ansted activities internationally under the leadership of Professor Roger Haw. The University grew through making agreements and affiliations with other universities and professional bodies internationally. Although it was a private body, its commitment to quality was recognized to the point that its graduates were accepted for further study at several accredited universities in the USA. It also partnered with the World University Roundtable in Arizona, USA, which was how I came to become involved with its work.

Between 2002 and 2007, I served as Honorary Representative for the UK and as an Honorary Member of Advisory Council for the University.

In 2003, the University announced that it wished to confer on me the honorary degree of Doctor of Music, and that this would be done at its convocation ceremony in my hometown of London, UK. I was a member of the organizing committee for this event, which took place at the North Campus of London Metropolitan University. Professor David Crowther of London Metropolitan University also held a professorship at Ansted University and served as chairman of the organizing committee. At the ceremony, my musical setting of the Ansted anthem was also performed.

The honorands at the convocation. I am in the front row, first on the left (with my back to the camera).

The citation for the award read “in recognition of his exemplary contributions to Music and Music Educational Development and his dedication to the promotion of Music Pedagogy, Performance and Music Criticism”.

In my address to the Convocation, I expressed some thoughts about the progress that had been made in education by institutions such as Ansted University,

“No longer is the educative process invariably seen as an externality to be imposed upon the individual, but increasingly as a holistic experience that draws upon the many facets of human potential and that has direct and absolute relevance to the world of employment. In every field of learning we are seeing a greater concentration on the essentials of professional practice, the “tools of the trade”, so to speak, which might be conceived as formulating a set of flexible competences that will adapt and grow through the career of an individual. Thus we can more truly today than ever before speak of education as a means to the empowerment of the whole person; an intellectual and professional liberation from otherwise restricted horizons.

An important part of this revolution is one that is particularly close to my own heart, which is the process by which significant competencies and knowledge acquired outside a formal educational setting are now capable of being converted into academic credit for mid-career individuals, who are thus now able to achieve academic recognition for those core elements of skills and learning that have brought about their existing professional success. This life-changing opportunity represents an important shift in the way we perceive learning; no longer does learning undertaken outside the classroom necessarily have a lesser value than that undertaken within it, nor does learning stop at the point of course completion. Indeed, since one of the elements of providing individuals with the “tools of their trade” is teaching them how to continue learning and developing, it would be rather disappointing if that learning and development concluded as they walked out of their University!

It is the furtherance of these things, as well as the constant need to widen educational participation, that has contributed to the evolution of the new methodologies of distance learning, which are now accepted as mainstream within progressive educational communities, and which have begun to create a global marketplace in educational terms, with all the implications of diversity and increased consumer choice that this brings with it. Many of those involved in education have talked about the creation of a society where lifelong learning takes place. In Britain today, that’s starting to happen, and for many of us, it is not a moment too soon.”

When I established Claremont University of Arts (Seychelles) very much on the principles cited in my address above, Ansted University signed a wide-ranging Memorandum of Understanding with the new institution.

However, the focus of Ansted University had now shifted from a generalist institution to one whose profile was increasingly dominated by the fashionable topic of Corporate Social Responsibility. While I was generally in sympathy with CSR, it was not an area of my expertise, nor something that I wanted to pursue in depth. As a result, I became less involved with the University and did not renew my appointments as representative and council member when they expired in 2007.

About johnkersey

Historian, musician and educationalist.
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