Published On: Wed, Mar 16th, 2016

French woman aged 91 gets PhD after 30 years



A woman aged 91 has become one of the oldest people in France to gain a PhD after she completed a thesis that she had begun three decades earlier.

Colette Bourlier was awarded the mark of “high distinction” for her work, which she successfully defended on Tuesday before a jury of the University of Franche-Comte in Besancon, eastern France.

“It took a bit of time to write because I took breaks,” Bourlier said, explaining the decades it took her to complete her work.

The thesis was entitled “Immigrant workers in Besancon in the second half of the 20th century.”

It drew on her own experience as a teacher in literacy programmes for immigrants in the eastern French city.

She became interested in a PhD after she retired in 1983. Normally, a PhD in France is written in three years, but Bourlier was “an extremely atypical” student, said her professor, Serge Ormaux.

“She is probably the only person who knew all the aspects in such detail and who was able to weave everything together. She backed it up with statistical analyses.”


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Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology