There are estimated to be around 2.6 million veterans living in the UK. Having served in the Armed Forces and dedicated their lives to the safety of the nation, they are men and women who have trained explicitly for the demands of military life in our nation’s unfailing defence.
The Open University (OU) believes that when these individuals leave military life and return to our communities they are of great value to society. This is a view shared by the civilian employers of veterans who enter the workforce with ambition and valuable skills such as communication, teamwork and project management. Veterans have returned from the most unique of environments and have extensive practical experience in areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). At a time when the UK is suffering from a shortage of skilled individuals it is vital that the talents of all veterans are recognised and developed further.
The Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund (DVSF) has been tailored to fully support disabled veterans, injured in or due to service, as they transition to civilian life. It aims to provide a free OU education and a wraparound disability and careers support service. The large majority of veterans make a successful move out of the military, however, for those who do struggle this Fund offers a lifeline.
Unlike colleagues who make plans for retirement, veterans who are discharged due to disabilities have to deal with an unexpected end to service life. Consequently, they are less likely to be prepared for a new life outside of the military. And, according to the Career Transition Partnership annual statistics, veterans are significantly less likely to have a degree than non-veteran counterparts, which could leave them at a disadvantage in the jobs market.
Finding a fulfilling, sustainable job is an experience that 44% of disabled veterans find difficult according to the Deloitte report Veterans Work: Moving On. They identify obstacles such as: matching their existing skill-set to civilian roles, having insufficient or unrecognisable qualifications, and writing CVs or job applications. The careers support offered by DVSF aims to address these difficulties so that veterans are able to put their considerable, valuable skills to use in the workplace.
The OU is well-placed to deliver this programme. Currently over 24,000 of our students have a registered disability. Our distance learning is sent straight into students’ homes which is ideal for anyone with health issues. We also enhance our flexible learning with specialist equipment and assistance such as alternative format study materials.
As a Pioneer Graduate of the Open University, and an ex-serviceman, I recognise both the effort required to complete an OU degree, but also the immense value gained from doing so. I am proud to be an ambassador for a programme which is changing the lives of our disabled veterans.Sir Christopher Coville KCB FRAeS FCIPD BA (Open), Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund Ambassador
The ability to study anywhere, at any time has made the OU the university of choice for many serving military personnel, and we work closely with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to support their education. The MOD, along with many military charities and organisations, have provided us with help and guidance to design the Fund such that it meets the needs of disabled veterans and reaches this important audience effectively.
We are now supporting our first two intakes of DVSF students, 55 enrolled in 2018 and 50 in 2019. These individuals come to us from a variety of backgrounds and have a complex range of health challenges. Many have mental health conditions and our specialist support services will be tailored to help these individuals manage the demands of studying. Gaining employment or a new career was the motivation behind 60% of applications to the Fund. A follow up survey of the students found that the majority expressed an interest in entering a mentoring scheme, work placement or similar. With this knowledge we have increased our careers services provision and activities to meet this ambition. The support services are proving to be very beneficial elements of the DVSF programme.
I really appreciate this opportunity given to me by the OU. To have this ability to study is an intrinsic part of my recovery. It gives me a focus and a purpose each day and will lead me towards employment in my chosen fieldScholarship recipient, 2018/19 academic year
We are pleased that the scheme was recognised in the UK Government Strategy for our Veterans consultation paper. This Strategy has a 10 year vision to help veterans access support, maximise potential and be of benefit to society.
Navigating new recruitment processes and translating military experiences for civilian employers are identified as potential barriers by the Strategy. These are areas where the Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund can assist - through education, careers advice and the confidence boost that self-motivated studying can bring.
• Eligible applicants resident in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland may apply for a bursary of £3,000 for each 60 credits of OU study, up to £18,000 for up to 360 credits (for a full undergraduate degree).
• The applicant would have to provide proof of disability, sustained in or due to service life.
• The applicant must intend to study at a minimum of 25% intensity (at least 30 credits per academic year).
Full terms and conditions are available at www.open.ac.uk/courses/choose/veterans
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity
BAE Systems plc
The Big Give
The Chancellor using LIBOR funds
Constance Travis Charitable Trust
Sir Christopher Coville KCB
The Englefield Charitable Trust
The Simon Gibson Charitable Trust
The Inman Charity
The ‘Lest We Forget’ Association
PF Charitable Trust
Queen Mary's Roehampton Trust
The Samuel Storey Family Charitable Trust
Thales Charitable Trust
The Trelix Charitable Trust
The Utley Foundation
The Veterans’ Foundation
The Wakeham Trust
The William Allen Young Charitable Trust
The Worshipful Company of World Traders Charitable Trust
AND OVER 1,100 ALUMNI, FRIENDS AND OU SUPPORTERS
You can help us in two ways.
It is vital that we spread the word as widely as we can and ensure that as many disabled veterans as possible learn about this opportunity. We can provide a promotional pack for social media, websites and events.
We have surpassed our target of enrolling 100 students into the DVSF programme. Our next goal is to raise £26,000 per student for another 50 students. This will fund course costs and the concentrated disability and careers support services that are in place to set the veterans up for study success.
Head of Corporate Partnerships