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 disadvantaged backgrounds from accessing university education and racial inequalities still exist across higher education. Unless action is taken now, the Degree Award 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.
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:
Full details of the scholarships and the application process can be found here.
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.
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
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.
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:
To make a donation please visit https://alumni.open.ac.uk/donate/black-students-support-fund/
Spirax-Sarco Engineering plc
Sigrid Rausing Trust
Amazon Services UK Ltd
Thales Group UK
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: http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/fees-and-funding