The Open University

The 'New Openings' Project

The Open University in Ireland’s ‘New Openings’ project provides individuals with free ‘Openings’ courses (twenty-week, introductory courses with built-in skills and personal development) helping them to access Higher Education. It specifically is targeted at disadvantaged and marginalised people on both sides of the border, including those in communities severely affected by years of conflict but who wish to meet the challenges of the new era which is dawning across the whole of Ireland.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from to


Registered Charity in England and Wales (SC038302)




  • Community Support & DevelopmentCommunity Support & Development
  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment


  • Women & GirlsWomen & Girls
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)
  • OtherOther



‘New Openings’ is based on a previous highly-successful Open University project that enabled around 800 students from the most disadvantaged communities in Northern Ireland and the six border counties of the Republic to take their first steps into further and higher education. Building on that success, the aims of the project are to expand to cover the entire island of Ireland and to include ‘new communities’ including migrant workers and the educationally disadvantaged in cities such as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, offering them the opportunity to enhance their lives and employment prospects. Not only does the opportunity of education benefit the individual, but our tutors also talk of the home environment being transformed for young people because a parent is undertaking a study course. The home becomes a learning environment, often bringing about change in the notion of learning for the next generation. Suddenly employability becomes something which is achievable and within reach, not just aspirational or something ‘for them, not for us’. At present, the OU is turning away potential students in Ireland who want to learn due to lack of financial support. Funding would bring hope to 500 students annually over a five-year period.