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Student Story: Emma's furlough experience

The worst thing has been Lockdown, I was a busy venue technician and I was used to being busy with events and creating content, and when my industry got severally hit, I almost lost my job. I got my hours reduced so severally that my mental health took a real hit; I was worried about my future.


Woman using tablet device

Unfortunately, too many of us can relate with Emma’s situation.  During this pandemic many of us have seen our employment impacted with people being furloughed, made redundant or seeing a negative impact on our self-employed earnings or we all know people in this situation. 

Working in the arts sector, Emma was furloughed as lockdown was brought into Northern Ireland and she decided to do something useful about her situation. 


“My hours were reduced due to lockdown but instead of letting it get me down I looked into ways I could study.  I was browsing through training opportunities on the Arts Council website and applied on a whim to study a fully-funded course with The Open University because I was struggling to find extra work. I was very lucky to get picked for this opportunity and I’m very excited to start learning again. 

“I’m really hoping studying will give me the boost I need for a higher-grade job.  I’m trying to convert all of my industry experience into a qualification that will give me the edge I’ve been missing when applying for better jobs and advance my career to where I want to be. 

“Because I’m studying at home, I was worried I’d be expected to sit in front of a pdf, but I was very happy to receive books, and an excellent course guide, which let me feel involved in studying. It may sound silly, but it makes me feel more like a student to have course books. My tutor has been great so far, very welcoming and visible and I’m looking forward to work with them this year. 

“At the moment I’m very excited about studying again. I love to learn but the worry I have is that I’m not used to being back into structured and disciplined studying, but I have great classmates and a tutor to help keep me on track. “ 

“I think the OU has reminded me of the person I wanted to be when I was 18, I’ve got more energy, I feel like my mental health has vastly improved and I’m proud of myself again. I feel like I’m achieving something and the confidence I’ve got back will hopefully propel me forward. 

“I’m very fortunate my partner is amazing; she helps keep me motivated and works hard to keep the stress off me to upkeep the household since I’ve lost so much income. I work from home for a few hours a week and on my off days I get to fit study in and around caring for my mother, pets and houseThe OU apps have also been great, if I’ve been stuck in a hospital waiting room or on the train at short notice I can keep studying and make the most of my time. 


So far, The Open University has offered over 500 fully-funded courses, across a variety of subjects, to those whose employment has been affected by COIVD-19. We are currently offering free microcredentials that can help to upskill people in growing industry areas. Microcredentials offer a great form of condensed learning to ensure that we can help people to reach their potential and achieve their career goals 


You can find out more about our fully-funded course offering here:  

For media enquiries:

Contact Christine Murphy

Communications Manager
Tel 028 9053 6219