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Carers Scholarships

Carers Scholarships

It’s quite a thought that at least three out of every five of us in the UK will be a carer at some point in our lives. So the chances are that you may already be caring for someone yourself, or certainly know another person close to you who is either receiving or giving care.

Whilst many carers want to care, it’s the human cost of being a carer that we want to bring to your attention today. A great many carers of all ages give so much of themselves and find their everyday lives disrupted so that they often end up exhausted. Carers are often unable to commit to a regular timetable and don’t have the money to study for higher education.

Our solution

Carers Scholarships - part of the Open Futures Fund - has already provided the equivalent of 132 undergraduate full fee-waiver scholarships to carers.

All carers are able to flexibly study towards a higher education qualification, some of whom are ‘young’ carers (25 and under). All carers awarded a scholarship go through a means tested process and provide proof of caring responsibilities from a GP, social worker, local authority, carer organisation or similar source.

To ensure young carers are encouraged to apply we ringfence approximately 30% for young carers (aged between 16 and 25) who often have missed out on further education due to their caring responsibilities.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible, students need to meet all the following criteria:

  • Starting OU study for the first time in the 2024/2025 academic year
  • Ordinarily resident in the UK and eligible for a UK fee
  • Be a carer who cares for an average of 15 hours a week, or have been a carer in the last two years, who cared for an average of 15 hours a week, but, due to bereavement, are no longer a carer
  • Able to provide proof of your current, or recently ended, caring responsibilities
  • Have a gross household income of no more than £25,000 a year, or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit
  • Study a minimum of 30 credits a year.

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


We are now supporting 132 student on Carers Scholarships, for which we received over 700 applications. These individuals come from a variety of backgrounds and across the four nations – often having medical problems themselves.

I was very fortunate to be awarded one of the first Carers Scholarships by The Open University – I felt like I had won the lottery. However, two years into the programme I believe the award was better than winning the lottery. I has provided me with a means of studying for a degree level qualification, in a subject of my choice, with flexibility around when and how I study.

Hollie, Carer and OU student

How to support

Through joining our family of supporters you can help make it possible for us to continue to offer this life changing opportunity to carers. Applications open 20 March 2024 and will close on 26 June 2024 to start study in Autumn 2024.

Get in Touch

For more information please contact:

Tracy Grunwell

Tracy Grunwell

Philanthropy Manager
01908 653694

The Carers Scholarships Fund is kindly supported by alumni, friends and OU supporters including:

Batchworth Trust
CareTech Foundation
Dr D C E Speller BA (Hons)
Hallmark Foundation
Merck KGaA
Mrs J A Purssell BA (Hons)
The Bronwen and Brian Mills Educational Trust
The Irving Memorial Trust 

I am excited to endorse The Carers Scholarships Fund. This is a huge opportunity for carers to progress their education and their careers. It also demonstrates to carers how valued they are, how vital they are to our society and how they are part of a community, not struggling alone

Dame Philippa Russell DBE


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 bursaries, scholarships and assistance schemes can be found here: