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Call for more lifelong learners at first OU open week

John D'Arcy, Open University Nation Director, pictured with Dr Stephen Farry Minister for Employment and Learning
Gail Bell

THE importance of higher education to the Northern Ireland economy has been highlighted at the launch of the first ever 'open week' organised by the Open University.

A promotional week has been planned at the OU's Belfast headquarters this week and coincides with Adult Learners Week, a UK-wide celebration of study for those who have long since left the classroom.

Launching the inaugural event, minister for employment and learning, Dr Stephen Farry, stressed the importance of adult learning to the wider Northern Ireland economy which, he said, needed a closer match-up between skills and employees.

"Eighty percent of the 2020 workforce has already left full-time education," he said, "so it is imperative that, in order to meet the skills needs of the future economy, people who are already in work have the opportunity to 'upskill'.

"The Open University's unique form of part-time, online-based learning can be the perfect vehicle for people to achieve this and it continues to play a key part in ensuring people have the skills they need to fulfil their potential, get into work, and contribute to our economy."

Throughout the week, there will be a designated team available to advise on OU courses, qualifications, fees and financial support options.

National director of OU, John D'Arcy, also emphasised the importance of lifelong learning which he said had the potential to open up a whole new range of employment opportunities for students of any age.

"No-one should feel that the chance to study at university has passed them by," he said. "The Open University specialises in giving people the opportunity to study towards a higher level qualification in a way that fits around their job and caring commitments."

And, in a direct call, to new students, he added: "Studying with the Open University at undergraduate level requires no prior formal qualifications. All you need is the commitment and the desire to find out what you are capable of."

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