Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Northern Ireland dreams big - but majority delay chasing it

Northern Ireland dreams big - but majority delay chasing it

According to The Open University, nine in 10 (95%) adults in Northern Ireland have an ambition in life, the most common include earning more money (51%), having a better future for their family (43%), boosting confidence (36%) and inspiring their children (32%).

Across Northern Ireland, close to six in 10 (65%) adults has an unfulfilled dream yet just one in five (21%) is planning to turn it into a reality in 2020.  The findings come as The Open University marks its ‘free your ambition’ campaign – a national campaign to encourage more people across Northern Ireland to act on their ambition and access learning to help them achieve their dreams.

The challenges include personal commitment (40%), the cost of doing it (36%) or a lack of confidence (27%). On average, it takes someone 18 months before taking an initial step towards an ambition – whether that’s starting to save, changing careers or enrolling on a course.

Those living in Northern Ireland and from lower-income households are more likely to lack confidence in their abilities which can make it harder to succeed in education and in the workplace. For example, 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 Northern-Irish adults respectively.

National Director for The Open University in Ireland, John D’Arcy 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.”

One in two (54%) adults in Northern Ireland say that as they get older, they find it harder to turn their dreams into a reality so today The Open University wants to call on people in Northern Ireland this January to not delay any longer and make 2020 the year of ambition. The University estimates around 159,000 adults in Northern Ireland would like to access learning but many are putting off their ambitions because of confidence, a fear of failure, commitment challenges or the cost.

Worryingly, 64% of adults in Northern Ireland on low incomes 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.


For more information visit  





For media enquiries:

Contact Christine Murphy

Communications Manager
Tel 028 9053 6219