Interview: Ed Sheeran awarded honorary doctorate at University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich

Ed Sheeran's UCS graduation ceremony.

Ed Sheeran's UCS graduation ceremony. - Credit: Gregg Brown

The singer-songwriter received the honour for his “outstanding contribution to music”. He spoke to former schoolmate and reporter Callum Maclean.

Ed Sheeran's UCS graduation ceremony.

Ed Sheeran's UCS graduation ceremony. - Credit: Gregg Brown

“Yeah, I’m a doctor...”

As I sat down with Ed Sheeran, ahead of him receiving an honorary doctorate from University Campus Suffolk this evening, I thought about what the 24-year-old had achieved.

Four Brit Awards, two Ivor Novello awards, six Grammy nominations, the list goes on.

“I find it funny because I’m kind of joking and kind of serious because it’s something to fall back on,” he said.

Ed Sheeran addresses fellow graduates at a graduation ceremony at University Campus Suffolk. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire.

Ed Sheeran addresses fellow graduates at a graduation ceremony at University Campus Suffolk. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire. - Credit: PA


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“It’s a weird thing to be in a place with lots of people – I feel like I’m swanning in and getting it, but I’ve been told it’s a bit different to that.

“I’m excited to share the day with everyone.”

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Ed, who left Thomas Mills High School before completing his A Levels, took centre stage at Ipswich’s Town Hall as he was awarded the degree.

He was recognised by the university for his outstanding contribution to music.

Reporter Callum Maclean and his former schoolmate Ed Sheeran.

Reporter Callum Maclean and his former schoolmate Ed Sheeran. - Credit: Gregg Brown

When he accepted his honour, he said it was “odd”, as he had achieved his dreams five years ago.

Addressing the 108 graduates, watched on by his parents John and Imogen, he said: “I’m not really the poster boy for education and I don’t know if I can give advice on that side of things.

“I chose something I love and worked hard at it and didn’t really listen to anyone who told me I couldn’t do something.

“There’s no key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everyone so make sure you please yourself.

“Choose something you love and work hard at it and you’ll be surprised how far you can get.”

Sheeran’s critically acclaimed and hugely successful debut + (pronounced plus) in 2011 was certified six times platinum in the UK alone and has achieved worldwide sales of more than four million copies to date.

The success of + took Ed from the Barfly in London to three sold out nights at Madison Square Garden, performing over 400 sold out shows worldwide.

Last year he released his second album x (pronounced multiply) that has since gone on to sell more than seven million copies worldwide and includes hit singles Sing, Don’t, Thinking Out Loud and Bloodstream.

The album’s world tour continues throughout 2015, including three sold out nights at Wembley Stadium earlier this year.

Before being awarded the doctorate, the Framlingham-raised singer-songwriter gave his views about university.

“I would say you have to do the work as you have to pay for it. But the main thing is about growing up,” he said.

“I remember when my brother went to uni. Every time he came home he was a different person.

“I think the main focus is to grow. There are people who just work and get a first. You should do both.

“Make new friends, fall in love, fall out of love. Get drunk and know your limits.

“You have to live and discover yourself. I think that’s what it’s about.”

Despite picking up the honour, Sheeran did not have any plans for celebrating. On Thursday he will be in London’s Leicester Square to premiere his concert-film Jumpers for Goalposts.

“It’s a cool week. It’s going to be very family orientated and I like that,” he said.

The singer-songwriter is also hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards in Milan on Friday, alongside Australian celebrity Ruby Rose.

However, Ed was happy to be back in the county he grew up in.

Sheeran said: “It’s great to be back. It’s good to be here.”

When questioned about what advice he would give to students, he said: “From my profession I’ve been kind of anti-education.

“To be in classical music or art I would say you need an education, but to be a pop star you have to go and experience it yourself.”

He told the Press Association that he believed there is a lot of pressure on young people to go to university.

He said: “I think there is a lot of pressure among young people. I definitely found it at school.

“When I was at school it was pretty much like – you do your GCSEs, you do your A Levels, you go to university, you find a job, and then you find out what you want to do.

“That doesn’t always work out for everyone.

“I think we should encourage kids to chill a bit more. You don’t have to go to university at 18, you can go off and travel for a year.

“Thailand’s super cheap, you can get beers for like 15p. Just go and find yourself there. Hang out with people of a similar age and grow.”

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