Published by Nicki Hayes

Categorised in Good To Know

Last year, The Open University (OU) launched its Carers’ Scholarship Fund, the first-ever of its kind in the UK. The Fund, a one year pilot, supported the equivalent1 of 50 undergraduate/postgraduate full fee-waiver scholarships, ring-fencing 15 scholarships for those in the 18-28 age group.  

The pilot was a success, so the scheme is running again this year. You have until 31 July to apply. Here’s our answers to some frequently asked questions about the OU Carers’ Scholarship Fund. 

Does the OU really understand the challenges of studying whilst being an unpaid carer? 

Yes. 

“As a carer, you may have seen impacts on your school progress, on your ability to stick to a timetable, and may even find you need to change career to find employment that works around your caring responsibilities. At the OU, we’re here to help put higher education back within your grasp with our flexible study arrangements.”

You don’t have to be a young carer either. Scholarships are available to all age groups. Read Karen’s story and Jane’s story for two examples. 

Still unsure? Here’s the OU’s guide to how they can support you to study whilst you care.   

What are the Carers’ Scholarships? 

For the second year running, the OU is making 50 scholarships available in the 2020/2021 academic year, reserving 15 for young carers aged between 18–25. As a result of the current coronavirus outbreak, it will also be possible for successful applicants to reserve their scholarship until the 2021/2022 academic year, if needed. 

A scholarship covers OU undergraduate credit-bearing modules and qualifications, paying for the full tuition cost of your qualification, up to 120 credits each seasonal academic year and 360 credits in total. 

To be eligible, you’ll need to meet all the following criteria: 

  • start OU study for the first time in academic year 2020/2021 or 2021/2022 
  • ordinarily resident in the UK and eligible for a UK fee 
  • be a carer who cares for an average of 15 hours a week, or 
    have been a carer in the last 2 years, who cared for an average of 15 hours a week, but, due to bereavement, are no longer a carer 
  • able to provide proof of your current, or recently ended, caring responsibilities 
  • have a gross household income of no more than £25,000 a year, or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit
  • study a minimum of 30 credits a year. 

What supporting evidence do you need? 

You’ll need to provide evidence that you’ve been providing unpaid care to one or more people. This could be a letter from your current GP, social worker or carer support organisation. 

You’ll also need to provide evidence of your household income or qualifying benefit. 

How can you apply to the Carers’ Scholarships Fund? 

Applications are open. You’ll need to download the full scholarship terms and conditions, as well as the scholarship application form

Return your completed application to the OU Student Fees team – you’ll find their contact details on the application form. 

Applications close midnight 31 July 2020. 

If you’re successful, you’ll be notified by letter by 21 August 2020.  OU will also contact you in August to help you choose your course, so don’t worry if you’re not sure what you want to study. 

Are you a beneficiary of last year’s OU Carers Scholarship Fund? Would you like to share your story with our community of carers? If so, please get in touch

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