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Care Experienced Scholarship

The Open University Care Experienced Scholarship offers six full undergraduate scholarships to care-experienced young people aged 25 and under.

It has been designed in collaboration with The John Lewis Partnership as part of the Building Happier Futures initiative to offer young people with experience of being in care an opportunity to study an undergraduate qualification for free.

Being care experienced

We know that young people with experience of care are significantly less likely to continue into higher education than their peers. Being in care can impact your school progress and the opportunity to attend university at the usual time.

At the OU, we’re here to help put higher education back within your grasp with our open-access courses and flexible study arrangements. OU study means you do not have to move away and can study from the comfort of your own home.

What is the Care Experienced Scholarship?

The Open University’s Care Experienced Scholarship, in conjunction with The John Lewis Partnership launched for the first time in the 2023/2024 academic year, offering four undergraduate scholarships. In the 2024/25 academic year, we’re offering six further undergraduate scholarships to care-experienced young people aged 25 and under.

A scholarship covers OU undergraduate credit-bearing 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:

  • be 25 years of age or under on 1 September 2024
  • be starting OU study for the first time in the 2024/25 academic year
  • be ordinarily resident in the UK and eligible for a UK fee
  • hold no existing higher education qualification(s)
  • be able to demonstrate proof of your experience of being in care
  • have a gross personal income of not more than £25,000 per year or receive a qualifying benefit
  • be studying a module as part of an undergraduate qualification in the academic year 2024/25 (1 September 2024 to 31 August 2025)
  • be studying a minimum of 30 credits a year.

The full eligibility criteria are available in the terms and conditions.

What supporting evidence do I need?

You will need to provide evidence of your care experience. This could be a letter from your Local Authority confirming your care leaver status, or a letter from a GP, social worker, care experienced support service or other professional person from the local authority in which you were looked after. You’ll also need to provide evidence of your personal income or qualifying benefit.

How to apply

We’re now accepting applications for the 2024/25 academic year. You’ll need to download the full scholarship terms and conditions and the scholarship application form to apply.

Once completed, please email your application form and supporting evidence to our Student Fees team. You’ll find their contact details on the first page of the application form.

Applications close at midday on 24 July 2024. We’ll email you by 9 August 2024 to confirm if you’re successful. We’ll also contact you to ensure you’re ready to study and, if needed, help you choose your course.

Need more information?

Our advisers are on hand to answer any questions about the Care Experienced Scholarship or if you need help completing your application. Don’t hesitate to call us on 0300 303 5303 or email us at general-enquiries@open.ac.uk.

Our donors

The Fund wouldn’t be possible without the support of our generous donors. The John Lewis Partnership, alumni, friends and OU supporters, including Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust, have supported the scheme.

If you would like to support the fund, please email us to discuss donating.