Open University: 52% NI adults on lower incomes are 'delaying their dreams'

  • Close to six in 10 adults in Northern Ireland have an unfulfilled dream yet just one in five are planning to turn it into a reality in 2020, according to research by the Open University (OU).

    The survey was conducted as the university is marking its ‘free your ambition’ campaign – a national initiative to encourage more people to act on their ambitions and access learning to help them achieve their dreams.

    52% of people on lower household incomes are putting off their ambitions due to the cost while 42% are putting it off due to the personal commitment – compared to 36% and 40% among all adults in NI respectively. 

    The university estimates around 159,000 adults in Northern Ireland would like to access learning but many are putting off their ambitions; 54% of people said as they get older, they find it harder to turn their dreams into a reality.

    64% of NI-based adults on incomes up to £20,000 were unaware that they could qualify for a fee grant of £1,230 towards university tuition fees, which does not need to be repaid if your household income is under £25,000 per year.

    John D’Arcy is the national director for the Open University in Ireland and said: “These findings show that we really do dream big and many of us have ambitions to improve our lives.  Our message today is simple: you can do it. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.  All you need is the will – and the way – and that’s where we come in.  Learning with the OU is life changing.  You’ll have the flexibility to study around your commitments – be that a family or starting a business.

    “Our amazing students tell us that studying with the OU can hugely improve their confidence and self-belief which opens doors to more life changing opportunities, helps fulfils people’s career ambitions’ and ultimately improves employability.” 

    For more information visit  

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

    Got a news-related tip you’d like to see covered on Sync NI? Email the editorial team for our consideration.

Share this story