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Open Futures Fund

We believe that where you start in life shouldn’t limit where you go. The Open Futures Fund provides life-changing scholarships, bursaries and support to students who would otherwise miss out on education.

Open Futures is truly at the heart of the OU’s mission to make education accessible to all and is only possible thanks to your continued generosity. Together, we are breaking down barriers to education, stopping potential from going to waste and ensuring everyone – regardless of background – has the opportunity to pursue their ambitions.

By supporting the Open Futures Fund, you are supporting a range of OU scholarships and bursaries, including: 

Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund

Adjusting to civilian life with disability can seem like an impossible challenge for many disabled veterans. The Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund ensures that veterans injured during or due to service are empowered to rewrite their own futures. Through the Fund, these brave servicemen and women receive the opportunity to study with the OU at undergraduate level for free, with specialist disability and career support, so they can reskill for the civilian jobs market and rebuild their lives.

The first Fund of its kind in the UK, this unique lifeline has already supported 210 veterans. We continue to fundraise to provide a further 50 scholarship places in 2022 so more military heroes have the opportunities they deserve.

Carers Scholarships Fund

Life can be extremely challenging for unpaid carers, who selflessly give so much of their time and themselves to look after their loved ones. The Carers Scholarships Fund offers carers the opportunity to study with the OU for free, so they can develop their sense of identity outside of caring and retrain towards seeking employment.

With at least three out of five of us in the UK likely to become a carer at some point, this unique scholarship fund is the first of its kind in the UK and designed to support carers – including young carers – who would otherwise simply miss out on higher education and the chance to invest in themselves. The flexibility of OU study means carers can achieve their qualifications whilst balancing their caring responsibilities

We have already provided 90 full scholarships and with your ongoing support, we look to provide more scholarships in 2022.

Black Students' Support Fund

For over fifty years, the OU’s open access policy and pioneering distance learning model has helped to break down the barriers that prevent so many students from achieving their ambitions. Yet there is still much more progress to be made. Year on year, evidence demonstrates that for certain groups of students, especially Black students, the playing field is simply not fair. Inequalities still exist across higher education and unless action is taken now, the Degree Award Gap, which puts Black students at a stark disadvantage, will only widen.

We are extending our Open Futures Fund to include scholarships and bursaries specifically to support Black students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This fund will provide free OU undergraduate study to UK resident Black students of African ancestry including students from the Caribbean, Americas and of mixed/multiple heritage.

The Fund will provide up to 50 scholarships in Spring 2022 to start study in Autumn 2022, and 50 bursaries of up to £500 per award to cover study costs from August 2022. Your support can help to ensure Black students from disadvantaged background succeed and access vital life-changing education.

Sanctuary Scholarships

People arriving into the UK seeking refuge from threats to their lives face many challenges, but they also have the opportunity to build a new life and a hopeful future for themselves and their families. Only 5% of young refugees and displace people worldwide have access to higher education compared with a global average of 37% of young people.

The security of being granted refugee status (right to remain) in the UK after fleeing armed conflict or persecution in their home nation, often means they have their very first opportunity to engage with higher education and/or have access to meaningful employment. Additionally many people seeking sanctuary are successful and highly qualified professionals in their country of origin but need recognised qualifications to continue their careers in the UK.

Building on the success of the Open Futures Fund, we are launching our Sanctuary Scholarships – offering financial support to students seeking sanctuary beginning their studies with the university in Autumn 2022. We will provide 36 full fee-waiver scholarships over three years alongside a student support package designed to address the specific needs of people seeking sanctuary. 


Click here to support scholarships and help change someone’s life today

Published: 19 February 2020