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Supporting those that support others

The Open University’s Carers Scholarships Fund is now open for applications, thanks to the generous support of alumni and friends of the University.

Life can be extremely challenging for unpaid carers at the best of times. With the current pandemic, it has become even more difficult and worrying for those providing care for loved ones. We are committed to supporting carers of all ages to ensure that they receive the support and opportunities they would otherwise miss out on.

Applications for scholarships are now open

The OU’s Carers Scholarships Fund is now open for applications until 31 July 2020 and will provide 50 UK-based carers with funding so they can pursue a qualification. Studies were due to begin in October 2020, yet given the current circumstances, we are flexing our study start dates so if applicants are successful we can hold their place until the next academic year in September 2021.

There are 6.5 million people providing unpaid support for a family member or friend with an illness, disability, mental health condition or addiction. The tasks that they perform can be unexpected and difficult to plan around, disrupting everyday life, from relationships and health to finances and work. The practicalities of studying can be challenging for carers of any age, who often feel guilty about going to university or find it difficult to commit to a timetable because of their responsibilities.

Offering flexibility and tailored support

The OU is the ideal place for carers to study, it has an open access entry policy and a distance learning model that provides a flexible way to study. Online assignment submission, discussion groups and contact with tutors ensures that those who cannot attend face-to-face tutorials do not miss out. Registered carers are also able to access the OU’s Student Support Team, who have been trained to understand the challenges that carers may face.

Jhumar Johnson, Director of Development at The Open University said:

“Carers contribute significantly to society and the economy, often unrecognised and sacrificing their own dreams to care for a loved one. We’re proud to be leading the way with the OU’s Carers Scholarships Fund, which aims to give these incredible individuals the opportunity to help them to realise their ambitions through study.”

The fund is endorsed by Carers UK and Carers Trust.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“It’s fantastic that The Open University has launched its Carers Scholarships Fund which will support carers, who often put their own wishes behind those of their loved ones, to pursue their educational interests.

“Caring for someone can be demanding and often carers feel unable to spend time on their own personal development. These scholarships will enable carers to better fit their studies around their caring responsibilities and approach learning in a way that works for them.”

Gareth Howells, CEO of Carers Trust added:

“Carers Trust is thrilled to be working with The Open University for its Carers Scholarships Fund. Many young carers find it extremely challenging to combine their caring duties with their ambition to complete a degree. These scholarships, that are so well suited to carers’ needs, send a strong message that their contribution to society is recognised and valued.”

For more information on how to apply for a scholarship visit the University’s website.

A big thank you

Thank you so much to all our OU family who made the scholarship programme possible. Your support will continue to make a difference for carers, their families and their future.

Published: 16 April 2020