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Life-changing scholarships and bursaries at The Open University

Updated Thursday, 1st July 2021
Since The Open University (OU) first began in 1969, we have made it our mission to open up education for all. Over fifty years on, we continue to widen access to education by providing a range of scholarships and bursaries that will forever change the lives of disabled veterans, carers and students from disadvantaged backgrounds, who may otherwise miss out on the transformative power of education.

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Open Futures Fund

We believe that where you start in life shouldn’t limit where you go. That when someone has the ambition and the opportunity to succeed, seemingly impossible dreams can become a reality. The OU’s Open Futures Fund comprises several scholarships and bursaries which are all designed to break down the barriers to education and provide more individuals across society the opportunities to unlock their potential.

  • So far, 160 disabled veterans and 50 carers have received scholarships to study with the OU
  • Over 3,000 students have received financial assistance to help them continue studying through the pandemic and beyond
  • More than 1,000 students have received bursaries and grants to help them pursue their ambitions

How you can help

So many students are already rewriting their futures through the Open Futures Fund of scholarships and bursaries, yet there are more students out there right now who so desperately want the same opportunity to transform their lives. You can give them that all-important chance. It is only through the collective power of philanthropy that we can continue providing crucial scholarships and bursaries, as the Open Futures Fund relies on the gifts and generosity of OU alumni and supporters.   

Will you help more students to rewrite their futures through education? Together, with the continued support of the OU family, we can ensure that nobody misses out on the chance to achieve their dreams and ambitions.

Click here to support the Open Futures Fund today


Offering disabled veterans a new start

When veterans are injured or disabled during or due to service, adapting to civilian can feel like an impossible feat. The Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund offers these brave servicemen and women free access to life-changing OU education, along with dedicated careers and disability support. Studying enables these military heroes to retrain for the civilian jobs market, to gain new skills and to take their first steps towards new dreams.

For veteran and current OU scholarship recipient Steven, the opportunity to study has given him a renewed sense of purpose when he needed it most, as he explains:

“When I left the military, I felt lost and ripped away from the life and sense of purpose I so loved. Studying through the OU has given me the chance to get a fresh start and to achieve something positive for the rest of my life: a fresh start, a new house and hopefully a new career doing something worthwhile. Thank you to everyone who makes this possible. You are giving others a light at the end of the tunnel and we are so grateful.”

Steven is one of 160 veterans who have received a scholarship through the OU Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund. Applications are now open for 2021/22 and we have 50 more scholarship places available.

Click here to apply before 9 July


Will you give a lifeline to more veterans like Steven? Every gift you give will make the world of difference for a brave disabled veteran who is ready to work towards a brighter, better future and just needs a helping hand. To learn why veterans deserve our support, head over to our Open Futures scholarship page.


Caring for those who care for others


Stock photo of a young Caucasian female, caring for an elderly Caucasian female

The day-to-day life of an unpaid carer is incredibly challenging. By giving so selflessly to others, unpaid carers are often forced into unemployment or have to give up on their dreams of higher education. The Carers Scholarship Fund offers unpaid carers the opportunity to study for qualifications with the OU for free. The flexibility of OU study and the fact students can study anywhere and at any time, means that carers no longer need to put their dreams on hold. They can continue their caring role whilst still achieving a qualification and working towards their futures.

This scholarship has given me the hope that I will one day be the wonderful English schoolteacher that I dreamt of being.

For OU student Dawn*, being able to study through the Carers Scholarships Fund has given her and her family something to look forward to after years of challenges, as she explains: 

“I started university at 18 years old with dreams of becoming a teacher but left when my mum’s health deteriorated. Since April 2019, I have been her full-time unpaid carer and look after her 24 hours a day, seven days a week with intermittent respite. Caring for a loved one means it’s very easy to stop being yourself. Thanks to this chance I feel alive, reborn like I am back in control of my life and I am going to succeed. This scholarship has given me the hope that I will one day be the wonderful English schoolteacher that I dreamt of being. I am so glad I found the courage to apply for the Carers Scholarship Fund. Thank you ever so much for making this scholarship possible. Your support has given me and my mum something to look forward to again.”

Dawn is one of 50 carers studying through the Carers Scholarship Fund. We are currently fundraising to create more scholarship places for carers to study with us in 2021/22.

Click here to apply before 21 August

Will you support more carers like Dawn today? By donating to the Open Futures Fund, you can completely transform the life chances of carers who so selflessly look after their loved ones. To learn why carers deserve our support, head over to our Open Futures scholarships page. 

* We have changed Dawn’s real name to protect her privacy.

Supporting students through grants and bursaries


Stock photo of a young Caucasian family with the father figure studying on a laptop

It’s essential that all students – regardless of background or circumstance – have the same opportunity to attend university and build their skills and knowledge. In addition to our scholarship programmes, the Open Futures Fund includes a range of grants and bursaries designed to offer flexible support to students who may need an extra helping hand.

Student Assistance

Over the last 12 months, philanthropic donations have helped support students through the pandemic. The resilience of OU students is amazing, yet due to the pandemic, many have struggled like never before due to loss of jobs or income. Some students were facing the heartbreaking decision of having to sell their computers or give up their studies to pay for their household bills, rent or food.  

  • More than 3,000 students have received Student Assistance grants to support them when they need us most
  • The majority of students received support for food, bills and study equipment
  • Grants ranged from £5 to £750 depending on their needs

The Open Futures Fund is developing more schemes to provide more support every year, including bursaries for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students on lower incomes. Your support makes the world of difference for students who are struggling and on the brink of giving up on their qualification dreams, will you help us to provide a lifeline to students through the pandemic and the beyond? 

Click here to support the Open Futures Fund today 

Thank you

By choosing to give a gift to the Open Futures Fund today, you are directly supporting current and future OU students and playing a part in shaping their futures. We rely on donations from alumni and supporters of The Open University to continue this meaningful work and with your support, we can continue to do so much good for disabled veterans, carers and students from all backgrounds.

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