OLIve: The Opening Learning Initiative

The Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) is a project that seeks to improve access to higher education and open up opportunities for people from refugee backgrounds to reach their full potential. The project is led by Professor Corinne Squire in the School for Policy Studies. The School for Policy studies also provides tutors from amongst its academics and students as well as administrative support for the programme.

OLIve is a 12-week programme supporting people from refugee backgrounds who want to go to university. It operates online across England, with in-person hub meetings in Bristol, London and Manchester.

OLIve is free, open to all, holistic, and refugee-centred. It offers online classes in Academic English and IELTS; Paths to HE, Education, Training and Employment; Digital Skills; and Creative Writing. OLIve also provides a catch-up YouTube channel, one-to-one tutoring to help with university and scholarship applications, and individual and group follow-up with all students. It offers between-programme advice, online classes and discussion and tutorial support, and ‘outreach’ short courses.

It is well-integrated with refugee-sector NGOs, and relevant local authority, Further Education (FE) and Higher Education provision.

Read more in the OLIve programme annual report 2023 (PDF, 794kB).

The School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, is the primary academic partner of the OLIve programme. 

  • SPS provides around 15 one-to-one tutors for OLIve students. UoB undergraduate and graduate students, as well as staff, contribute to tutoring.
  • SPS hosts the in-person OLive-southwest 'hub' meetings. In these meetings, OLIve students gather twice-termly in the School, for English support and conversation and HE advice. 
  • SPS OLive tutors teach and support OLIve summer short courses in local refugee NGOs, and contribute to OLIve's online academic seminar programme.
  • SPS undergraduate students also engage with the OLIve programme through placements, in which they support the teaching programme and contribute to research on OLive and more broadly, on refugees and HE access.
  • SPS colleagues involved with OLIve also engage with similar programmes based in other UK universities, and with international OLIve partners in Hungary and Germany.
  • Many SPS staff and students themselves come from refugee and migrant backgrounds themselves. Their contributions to the OLIve programme are particularly helpful.

The School for Policy Studies is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion to create an environment that is fair, accessible and supportive for all staff and students and enables people from all backgrounds to realise their full potential.   

OLIve students share their experiences and hopes for the future

How is the programme organised and funded?

The programme was organised collaboratively between Refugee Education UK (REUK) and the University of Bristol (UoB), with support from colleagues in University College London (UCL), Bloomsbury and University of East London Doctoral Training Programme, and Manchester University.

This programme was funded by the National Lottery. 

Contact Us

  •  For new student enquiries, contact OLIve 
  •  For enquiries about younger students' requirements, contact Katie Barringer at Refugee Education UK 
  •  For other enquiries, contact Corinne Squire
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