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Policy and public affairs

A view of the front of the Stormont buildings
We work to help shape higher education and related public policy to support higher education and the needs of learners in Northern Ireland, as well as promoting the work and mission of The Open University.

We do this by working closely with the Minister and civil servants at the Department for the Economy, elected Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, particularly its Committee for the Economy, as well as Ministers and officials from government departments and other Assembly Committees.

You can read in more detail about a variety of our recent influencing and engagement activities here:

Free support for local business

As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic we are partnering with Invest Northern Ireland to provide local SMEs with free training and the learning resources to re-power their businesses. 

Furloughed workers scheme

In May 2020, we partnered with the Department for the Economy to produce a suite of free online courses for furloughed workers and others who have lost their job as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matrix panel member

In January 2020, The Open University was welcomed onto the Matrix panel.

Connected Programme

In 2018, we joined the Connected programme in collaboration with the Department for Economy, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and the six Further Education Colleges.



We respond to public consultations to ensure The Open University and the needs of its students are represented in policy-making. We also give evidence to Committees on various issues relating to the work of the OU in Northern Ireland.


HE Collaboration

We work closely with colleagues from Queen’s University Belfast, and Ulster University to promote the needs of the HE sector.

Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series

We are represented alongside Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University on the Assembly's Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series, presenting research to Members in order to formulate evidence-based policy-making.


Department for the Ecomony Strategies

The Open University make contributions to the Department for Economy’s Higher Education, Skills and Widening Participation strategies.


Party Conferences

We attend a range of party conferences to raise the profile of The Open University among politicians




For further information:

Megan Fearon
Senior Policy Manager