Buckingham’s Honorary Graduates

Over the years, The University has been pleased to confer honorary degrees to a wide range of distinguished individuals from all walks of life, who have made major contributions in their particular field. This includes people from academic life, politics, law and society in general, both within the UK and internationally. We are particularly delighted that some of our honorary degrees have been conferred upon our former students.

On this page you will find details of our 2024 honorary graduates, and details of honorary graduates going back to the early years of The University.

2024 Honorary Graduates

View the most recent honorary graduates of The University of Buckingham below:

Lord Jonathan Sumption, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Graduation portrait photograph of Lord Jonathon SumptionJonathan Sumption (Lord Sumption) began his career as an academic historian and a Fellow of Magdalen College Oxford before leaving in 1975 to go to the bar.

He became QC in 1986, and developed a prominent practice in public, constitutional and commercial law. In January 2012 he was appointed directly from the bar to the Supreme Court, one of only five people to have gone straight to the top court since 1873. As a Justice of the Court he has delivered major judgments on public and commercial law, on freedom of the press, and on international law among other subjects.

Lord Sumption retired from the Court on reaching the statutory age in December 2018. Since then he has been an active non-party commentator of constitutional affairs. His BBC Reith Lectures for 2019 (Law and the Decline of Politics) have proved highly influential.

In parallel with an active legal career, Lord Sumption has maintained his long-standing engagement with historical scholarship, writing a number of books on medieval history, including a five-volume history of the Hundred Years War, completed in 2023. The third volume (Divided Houses) was awarded the Wolfson History Prize for 2009.

Professor Robert Merkin, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Graduation photograph of Professor Robert MerkinRob Merkin is currently part-time Research Professor of Commercial Law at Reading University, having retired from full time academic life three years ago after 45 years of lecturing at Universities including Exeter, Southampton and Cardiff. Rob’s specialisms are insurance, reinsurance and arbitration, which he has taught not just in the UK but also in Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. He is the author of over 50 books and numerous articles, and his writings have been cited as authoritative by courts worldwide on well over 200 occasions, some thirty in 2023 alone. Rob also edits the Lloyd’s Law Reports and the Journal of Business Law.

Rob has served as Vice-President and then President of the British Insurance Law Association, and is Honorary Life President of the International Association of Insurance Law (AIDA). He has received a number of awards for his contribution to academic life, and was appointed as honorary King’s Counsel in 2015. He has been consultant to the UK Parliament and the Australian Royal Commission on Financial Services, and is currently advising the New Zealand governments insurance law reform.

He regularly gives presentations to both academic and practitioner audiences, has had a number of arbitrator appointments in England, Singapore and Hong Kong, regularly advises both insurers and law firms and is also Special Counsel to New Zealand law firm Duncan Cotterill. These days, his real love is legal history, and he is most proud of his two volume work Marine Insurance, A Legal History published at the end of 2021.

Mr Peter Higgins, Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Graduation photograph of Mr Peter HigginsI read Classics at Cambridge University, though in truth focussed more on playing rugby! I worked at Bain and Company for three years before helping set up Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts. We assembled an amazing team, who were much more talented than I was and have taken the business to £325mm turnover with a healthy profit. I left full time work in 2005 and have Chaired many small multi-channel retailers grow into much bigger businesses, achieving a few exits, such as Cath Kidston £106mm and £250mm and ME+EM £135mm. I have always said that I made so many mistakes at CT, that I was able to stop similar businesses making the same mistakes. I recently became Chair of Renais, a premium gin business, founded by Alex and Emma Watson.

However the two things I enjoy most are:

  1. Speaking about entrepreneurship in schools, to encourage the next wave of bright students to become entrepreneurs – the UK needs them!
  2. Speaking in the same schools about the charity Mary’s Meals, whose mission is to feed any child in poverty if they come to school. We feed about 2.5mm children every day thanks to the money the students raise.

Dr László Lang, Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Portrait photograph of Dr László LangAfter graduating from the University of Economics, Budapest in 1978, László Láng completed his doctorate at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1985. Until the early 1990s, he conducted research, published and lectured extensively on topics related to global geopolitics and geoeconomics at independent research organizations in Hungary and New York, USA. As acting head of the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs during Hungary’s regime change, he established a highly regarded platform for the international contacts and foreign policy discussions of the emerging new political forces.

After that, he held a number of board positions in Hungarian state banks before privatization, as well as in the country’s airlines and railroads. His banking career climaxed between 1997 and 2000 when as CEO of a commercial bank in Vienna, Austria, in accordance with the owner’s strategic goal, he successfully liquidated an organization with internationally dispersed, low-quality assets of over €500 million.

His crisis management skills were put to good use once again from 2003 when he was appointed first CEO and then Rector of International Business School, Budapest, a private university in Budapest with a student body of 1300. In close-knit, validation-based collaboration with UK universities, and in particular with The University of Buckingham over the past 11 years, Dr Láng has created an academically and financially strong, highly internationalized, agile and flexible provider of dual, undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate degree programmes for students from some 80 countries of the world

Previous Honorary Graduates

Details of honorary graduates going back to the early years of the University can be found below: