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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 specifically to support Black students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Black Students' Support Fund will provide scholarships for free OU undergraduate study - up to £25,000 per student.

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 2024/25
  • Be intending to study towards an undergraduate OU qualification or module commencing in the 2024/25 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 450 applications were made for the first two cohorts of 50 students on the scholarship scheme. Study at the OU typically takes six years, studying at part-time intensity to achieve an undergraduate degree. Applications are open 20 March 2024 to 3 July 2024 for ten places to start study in Autumn 2024.


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.

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' Support Fund is kindly supported by

The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation
The Cyril Taylor Charitable Foundation
Spirax-Sarco Engineering plc
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 those who are seeking sanctuary in the UK. We also offer the study-related costs fund, which is open to anyone on a low income. Information on all our scholarships and assistance schemes can be found here: