Former students

Proud of our students

We are proud of all our students and are always interested to hear where their life journeys take them.

Established in 1894, Wolsey Hall Oxford has an impressive list of former home study students. Included in their ranks are two Presidents, Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa and SR Nathan, President of Singapore and recent Olympic bronze medalist Amelie Morgan.

Nelson Mandela - Former Wolsey Hall Student

Nelson Mandela – President South Africa

We’re proud to say that during his time in Robben Island jail, Nelson Mandela studied for his London University Law degree through a correspondence course with Wolsey Hall Oxford – a true inspiration to distance learning students everywhere! Nelson Mandela’s courage changed the world. He died in South Africa in December 2013, at the age of 95, but his legacy lives on, and we will always take his wise words to heart: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

Wolsey Hall is mentioned in ‘The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela’.

S.R. Nathan – President Singapore

S.R. Nathan was President of Singapore from 1999-2011. Nathan describes in his autobiography, “An Unexpected Journey: Path to the Presidency” how his lack of a formal education was holding him back in his career. “After the war, whilst working, he completed his secondary education through self-study.” It describes how in his twenties he decided to rectify his situation by enrolling on a Wolsey Hall Oxford correspondence course gaining, in 1951, a very respectable Cambridge Grade II certificate. He sadly passed away in August 2016 and was honoured by Singapore as a great president.

President SR Nathan was a former Wolsey Hall student
homeschooling gymnast Amelie Morgan

Amelie Morgan – Olympic gymnast

Amelie Morgan and her team won bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for artistic gymnastics. At the English Championships Amelie won the all-round title and at the recent British Championships she medalled again with bronzes. Gymnast Amelie Morgan studied for her IGCSEs with Wolsey Hall Oxford as a homeschooling gymnast. Since then we have been watching her career and were delighted to see her impressive performance in the 2021 European Gymnast Championships where she achieved a bronze medal in uneven bars with a very inspiring routine. Amelie talked to us about her life as a homeschooling gymnast back in 2019.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo

Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-87) studied his Bachelor of Commerce via correspondence with Wolsey Hall Oxford in the 20’s. He later became a Nigerian statesman who played a key role in Nigeria’s independence movement, the 1st and 2nd Republics and the Civil War. In 1949 he founded the Nigerian Tribune, the oldest surviving private Nigerian newspaper. In 1992, the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation was founded in his memory as an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organisation committed to furthering the symbiotic interaction of public policy and relevant scholarship with a view to promoting the development of the Nigerian nation.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo

Sir Harold Evans

Sir Harold Evans – British-born journalist and editor of The Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981.

Whilst in the RAF at the end of WW2, Evans was inspired by other airmen to study economics by correspondence course with Wolsey Hall Oxford. In his autobiographical book My Paper Chase – True Stories of Vanished Times, he discusses his time spent studying with Wolsey Hall. He details how he was required to answer questions such as ‘Why is a pound of diamonds valued more than a pound of bread?’ He wrote his answers in the RAF station library before sending his scripts to Wolsey Hall Oxford and anxiously waited for the marked papers back.

In 2000 he was named one of International Press Institute’s 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past fifty years. In 2004, he was knighted by the British Crown for services to journalism.

G.M. Chambers – Prime Minister Trinidad and Tobago

George Chambers – The second post-independence Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago 1981 -1986. The People’s National Movement records that Chambers’ education included a GCE correspondence course with Wolsey Hall Oxford. He rose to political importance in 1981 by becoming Prime Minister. He carved out his own confident style and vowed to deal with corruption as one of his first pledges on becoming Prime Minister.


Dr. A.B. Assensoh – Prof. Emeritus

Dr. A.B. Assensoh studied with Wolsey Hall many years ago. He learned about Wolsey Hall Oxford through his uncle who studied through Wolsey Hall for his G.C.E. and “O” and “A” level qualifications. Education has continued to play a significant role in Dr. Assensoh’s life – and he is now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Oregon. He has recently enrolled his son, Livingston, on a Wolsey Hall Oxford course. Three generations of Wolsey Hall students!

Raymond Van Over – writer

Playwright Raymond Van Over won the 2017 Kaplan Prize for his play ‘Bruno’. He is the author of over 30 books and was a screenwriter for films and documentaries, including the Academy Award nominated ‘A Portrait of Giselle.’ He studied Ancient History & Early Literature and German with Wolsey Hall, and went on to study French Civilisation and Literature at the Sorbonne.

Former student

Griffin St Hilaire – United Nations

Griffin St Hilaire took courses in A level Economics and Accounting with Wolsey Hall Oxford in 1982, while continuing to work as a high school teacher in his home country of Dominica, West Indies. Griffin has since achieved considerable success. He passed both of his A level exams and went on to complete a degree in Economics, an MBA and an MA in International Relations. Today he works for the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ernest Cole – anti-apartheid photographer

Ernest Cole (1940-90) was a South African photographer. In the early 60s, he became South Africa’s first black freelance photographer and one of the most important anti-Apartheid photographers. He had hoped to become a doctor, but could not realise his dream due to the introduction of The Bantu Education Act, a segregation law that severely limited educational choices for black South Africans. Unwilling to accept the indignity of Bantu education, Cole terminated his studies at 16 and completed a correspondence course with Wolsey Hall Oxford.

Ernest Cole photographer

Prof Robert Ado-Fening – University of Ghana

Professor Robert Ado-Fening is a retired History Professor and former head of the History Department at the University of Ghana. He first drew inspiration from a course-mate at Technology college who passed the Inter-BA exam through private study alone. So he decided to enrol with Wolsey Hall Oxford for an A level in 1957 and passed, making him eligible for admission to the University of Ghana where he received a PhD. He is also adjunct lecturer at the Akrofi-Christaller Institute (ACI) of Theology, Mission and Culture.

Fred Flower CBE – Humanist educator

Fred Flower CBE was Principal of Kingsway Day College in London 1960-78, and was one of the great humanist educators of his day. His book Language in Education (1967) explored new ideas in communications and linguistics in an accessible way, making connections between disciplines and with practical classroom experience. After the war, he took an Economics Degree by correspondence with Wolsey Hall Oxford. He was involved in a number of pioneering projects exploring the training and educational needs of young industrial workers. As he put it, “All there is, is us, and what we make of our lives.”


Matthew Tawo Mbu – Foreign Minister Nigeria

Matthew Tawo Mbu (1929-2012) was a Nigerian lawyer, politician (Foreign Minister of Nigeria), diplomat, and a permanent fixture in Nigerian political affairs for more than 50 years. His early education was in Boki, then he studied by correspondence with Wolsey Hall Oxford. A lifelong intellectual, Mbu was awarded his PhD by London University in 1995, his thesis being centred on the OAU and its settlement of African disputes.

He launched into his political career driven on by the words of his childhood mentor Fr. Patrick Meeham – “You are for your people. You go and speak for them.”

David Martin PhD, FBA – Sociologist

David Martin (b. 1929) has studied and written extensively about the Sociology of Religion. He first taught in Primary schools and, while teaching, studied by correspondence with Wolsey Hall Oxford for a degree in Sociology. He won the University Postgraduate Scholarship after gaining a First Class degree in 1959. This led to a PhD at the London School of Economics (LSE). His PhD was published as Pacifism: a Historical and Sociological Study in 1965. In 1962 he was appointed to the Department of Sociology at the LSE, becoming Reader in 1967 and Professor in 1971. Wolsey Hall is mentioned in his autobiography here.

David Martin Sociologist

Harvey de Costa – Rhodes Scholar

Harvey de Costa took a London University degree via correspondence through Wolsey Hall Oxford in Jamaica in 1938. He obtained a First Class Degree by private study with Wolsey Hall. He went on to win the Jamaica Rhodes Scholarship in 1939. Then he went on to St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where he was elected a Senior Exhibitioner and in 1944 was called to the Bar.

He later returned to Jamaica to become the Senior Crown Council, and then in 1957 the Assistant Attorney General. “He is still remembered for the way in which he would outmanoeuvre the more flamboyant counsel for the defence,” Edward Bough. Read more.

Paddy O’Brien – author

After being thrown out of school for being pregnant, Paddy took her A levels with Wolsey Hall in the 1970s. Juggling her education and a young baby, she moved on to Southampton University where she continued to study English Literature and Ancient Greek. As well as being a management consultant, Paddy had 13 books published ranging in subjects from childbirth and yoga to martial arts and management training. Now retired, Paddy has returned to study with Wolsey Hall, this time choosing A level History of Art.

Paddy O'Brien