The Open University in Scotland is proud to be a member of Winning Students, Scotland's national sports scholarship programme, which supports students competing in high performance sport.
Established in May 2009, Winning Students is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and governed by the University of Stirling as Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence. In member colleges and universities across Scotland, some of the most talented young athletes - including Olympians, Commonwealth competitors and senior internationalists - are combining their studies and their sport.
Studying part-time with The Open University in Scotland whilst managing sporting commitments offers student athletes huge flexibility about where and when they choose to study.
The governing bodies of nine core sports can nominate athletes for a scholarship: badminton, curling, football, golf, hockey, judo, orienteering, rowing, swimming, tennis and triathlon. There is also scope for Individual Scholarships to be awarded to athletes competing in other sports.
Selected athletes receive annual scholarships up to the value of £6000 which can be used on a range of support services, such as equipment and competition fees.
The OU's a great way to integrate study if you’re working or if you’ve got other commitments that don’t allow you to be based somewhere and studying… I tend to study better when I’m on the move, in aeroplanes and different places because that’s when I have the time to do it.
Handcyclist Karen Darke, pictured right.
Karen, from Inverness, won Gold and Silver medals at the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Paralympics respectively, and Silver and Bronze medals at the UCI Paracycling Road World Cup in 2016.
She combines her Bachelor of Arts Open (Hons) degree studies with race training and competitions, expeditions and motivational public speaking.
A keen runner, climber and 'all round outdoor addict’, Karen was paralysed from the chest down in 1993 in an accident. Her documentary IMPOSSIBLE, about overcoming challenges, premiered at the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival 2015 and includes an interview with adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
Karen said: "I’ve always wanted to speak a language fluently and when I’m in Majorca I want to communicate with people and improve that level of communication. I read my first book from cover to cover in Spanish without using a dictionary all the time so that was really satisfying."