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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 undergraduate qualification for free.

Being an unpaid carer

As a carer, you may have seen impacts on your school progress and your ability to stick to a timetable. You may even need to change careers 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 first of its kind in the UK. We have already provided the equivalent of 130 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 2024/2025 academic year, with three 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 2024/2025 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 receive a qualifying benefit
  • study a minimum of 30 credits a year.

Full details of the scheme are available in the scholarship terms and conditions.

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 for a Carers' Scholarship

Applications for academic year 2024/25 are now closed. If you’re successful, we’ll email you by 12 July 2024 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?

If you’ve got a question about the Carers’ Scholarship or need help completing your application, our advisers are here to help. Don’t hesitate to call us on 0300 303 5303 or email us at general-enquiries@open.ac.uk.


Our donors

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

  • CareTech Foundation
  • Conflux
  • Hallmark Foundation
  • Judith Purssell
  • Merck KGaA
  • The Batchworth Trust
  • The Bronwen and Brian Mills Charitable Trust
  • The Irving Memorial Trust

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


The Carers' Scholarship is an OU initiative that Carers Trust and Carers UK support by promoting it to their national networks of local carers’ organisations and offering scholarship recipients broader carers support.