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Carers' Scholarship

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' Scholarship could allow you to study an OU qualification for free.

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 is the very first of its kind in the UK. We have already provided the equivalent of 110 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 20 scholarships available in the 2023/2024 academic year, with six scholarships reserved for applicants aged 25 and under.

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:

  • be starting OU study for the first time in the 2023/2024 academic year
  • be 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
  • be 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

Applications for academic year 2023/24 are now closed. If you’re successful, we’ll email you by 7 July 2023 to confirm. We’ll also contact you soon afterwards to make sure you're ready to study and to help you choose your course.

Need more information?

Our advisers are available to answer your questions about the Carers’ Scholarship. Don’t hesitate to call us on 0300 303 5303 or email us at general-enquiries@open.ac.uk.


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
  • Conflux
  • Hallmark Foundation
  • Merck KGaA
  • Santander
  • Sigrid Rausing Foundation
  • The Bronwen and Brian Mills Charitable Trust
  • The Irving Memorial Trust

And over 6,000 alumni, friends and OU supporters.


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.