You are here

  1. Home
  2. Black Students' Support Fund

Black Students' Support Fund

The Black Students' Support Fund

At the heart of The Open University’s (OU) social justice mission is the belief that everyone – regardless of background or circumstance – should have the same opportunities and support to transform their lives through education. 

For over fifty years, the OU’s open access policy and unique 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. Access to learning is still limited by the barriers of race and social class; financial barriers still block students from accessing university education and racial inequalities still exist across higher education. Unless action is taken now, the Degree Awarding Gap, which puts Black students at a stark disadvantage, will only widen.

We know that when someone has the ambition and the opportunity to succeed, impossible dreams can become a reality. Education enables students to pursue their passions, to be creative, curious, and develop lifelong skills and knowledge which can unlock brighter futures and careers. It is an experience that should be open to everyone.

Our Solution

The OU is committed to driving change and ensuring that academic institutions remain inclusive and accessible for all members of society. In support of this, we have extended our Open Futures Fund to include scholarships and bursaries specifically to support Black students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Black Students' Support Fund will provide:

  • Scholarships for free OU undergraduate study - up to £22,000 per student
  • Bursaries for Black students new or existing who have not received a scholarship, of up to £500 to cover study costs or other living expenses, restricted to UK undergraduate students with a personal income of not more than £25,000
  • Additional student assistance funds for PCs and internet access

Eligibility Criteria

  • Identify as being from a Black background; applicants must have one of the following ethnicities:
    • Black African
    • Black Caribbean
    • Black Other
    • Mixed - White and Black Caribbean
    • Mixed - White and Black African
    • Other mixed background (to include Black African, Black Caribbean or Black Other)
  • Have a personal annual income of not more than £25,000 or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit
  • Be ordinarily resident in the UK and eligible for a UK fee
  • Hold no existing higher education qualification
  • Be a new student to The Open University in academic year 2023/24
  • Be intending to study towards an undergraduate OU qualification or module commencing in the 2023/24 academic year
  • Be studying at a minimum intensity of 25% (30 credits) per academic year

Full details of the scholarships and the application process can be found here.

The Fund: Progress

Over 150 applications were made for the first 50 places available on the scholarship scheme and these scholars began their studies in Autumn 2022. Study at the OU typically takes six years, studying at part-time intensity to achieve an undergraduate degree. 50 more places are available for Autumn 2023.


Thank you so much. It’s true that other ethnic groups are not given the same opportunities, or access to them, as others so I’m glad The Open University is. The University really is open to all. Because of the OU I can have hopes and dream and still believe in myself. I’m not limited here not by disability, money, social class or lack of diversity.”

Bursary recipient


The Fund: How to Support

We know that providing financial aid and incentives for Black students is only a small part of the solution in dismantling racial inequalities across higher education. There is much work to be done. By supporting the Black Students’ Support Fund, however, we can begin to make a difference. A scholarship can enable one student to attend university and begin a qualification that could rewrite their future. A bursary could help to ease financial pressures and give a student every chance of success as they begin their exciting university journey.

We have already provided 50 full scholarships and bursaries and will be opening applications for the next cohort in Spring 2023, for study in Autumn 2023, and 50 bursaries from August 2023.

Get in Touch

Students: Our advisers are on hand to answer any questions you might have about the Open Futures Scholarship for Black Students, and to help you complete your application, if you need it. Don’t hesitate to call us on 0300 303 5303.

To support the fund please contact:

Tracy Grunwell

Tracy Grunwell

Philanthropy Manager
01908 653694

To make a donation please visit


The Black Students' Scholarship Fund is kindly supported by

Spirax-Sarco Engineering plc
The Cyril Taylor Charitable Foundation


The Open University has numerous support programs addressing a wide variety of limitations or disadvantages that prospective students might face. For example, we offer financial support for carers, care-experienced learners, Black students and disabled veterans and refugees. We also offer the study-related costs fund, which is open to anyone on a low income. Information on all our bursaries, scholarships and assistance schemes can be found here: