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Carers' Scholarships Fund

Being an unpaid carer for a friend or family member can place huge demands on the lives of carers.

If you are, or have recently been, an unpaid carer, our Carers' Scholarships Fund could allow you to study an OU qualification for free.

Sister taking care of her brother

Being an unpaid carer

As a carer, you may have seen impacts on your school progress, on your ability to stick to a timetable, and may even find you need to change career to find employment that works around your caring responsibilities. At the OU, we’re here to help put higher education back within your grasp with our flexible study arrangements.

What are the Carers’ Scholarships?

We’re making 50 scholarships available in the 2020/2021 academic year, with 15 reserved for young carers between 18–25. As a result of the current coronavirus outbreak, it will also be possible for successful applicants to reserve their scholarship until the 2021/2022 academic year, if needed.

A scholarship covers OU undergraduate credit-bearing modules and qualifications, paying for the full tuition cost of your qualification, up to 120 credits each seasonal academic year and 360 credits in total.

To be eligible, you’ll need to meet all the following criteria:

  • start OU study for the first time in academic year 2020/2021 or 2021/2022
  • 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 2 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.

What supporting evidence do I need?

You’ll need to provide evidence that you’ve been providing unpaid care to one or more people. This could be a letter from your current GP, social worker or carer support organisation.

You’ll also need to provide evidence of your household income or qualifying benefit.

How to apply to the Carers’ Scholarships Fund

Scholarship applications for the 2020/21 academic year are now closed.

Due to the current Coronavirus situation, all applicants, successful and unsuccessful, will be contacted by 21 August 2020 by email only. We’ll also be in touch with successful applicants shortly afterwards to discuss your individual needs, including support in choosing a course, if you need help deciding what to study.


Our donors

Our Carers Scholarships Fund wouldn’t be possible without the support of our generous donors. The scheme is kindly supported by:

  • The Irving Memorial Trust
  • The Open University Students Educational Trust (OUSET)

And over 7,000 alumni, friends and OU supporters including:

  • Sir Bryan Nicholson GBE DUniv (Open)
  • Mrs Patricia Turner BA (Hons)


The Carers’ Scholarships Fund is an OU initiative that Carers Trust and Carers UK support by promoting it to their national networks of local carers’ organisations, and by offering scholarship recipients wider carers support.