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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?

The Open University’s Carers Scholarship Fund is the very first of its kind in the UK. We have already provided the equivalent of 50 full Open University scholarships to carers so that they get the chance to study, develop their sense of identity outside of caring and retrain towards seeking new employment. We aim to make a further 10 scholarships available in the 2021/2022 academic year.

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 the 2021/2022 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 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

We’re now closed for applications for the 2021/22 academic year.

Applications closed midnight 21 August 2021. If you’re successful, we’ll email you by 3 September 2021 to confirm. We’ll also then be in contact soon afterwards to help you choose your course, so don’t worry if you’re not sure what you’d like to study.

For further details of the scheme, view the full scholarship terms and conditions.

Need more information?

Our advisers are on hand to answer any questions you might have about the Carers’ Scholarships Fund, and to help you complete your application, if you need it. Don’t hesitate to call us on 0300 303 5303.


Our donors

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

  • CareTech Foundation
  • Hallmark Foundation
  • Merck KGaA
  • Santander
  • The Bronwen and Brian Mills Charitable Trust
  • The Irving Memorial Trust

And over 7,000 alumni, friends and OU supporters.


Carers Trust logo

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.