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Carers Scholarship Fund open for applications

Supporting those that support others

Across Northern Ireland one in eight people provide unpaid support for a family member or friend with an illness, disability, mental health condition or addiction. It’s estimated that at some point in our lives 60 per cent of us will do the same. The things carers do to look after others can be difficult to plan around; disrupting everyday life, from relationships and health to finances and work. The practicalities of studying can be challenging for carers of any age, who often feel guilty about going to university or find it difficult to commit to a timetable because of their responsibilities.

The Carers Scholarships Fund is now open for applications and provides 50 carers from anywhere in the UK with funding for a full undergraduate qualification*.Supported by alumni donations, applications are open until 31 July.

The OU is the ideal place for carers in Northern Ireland to study due to its open access entry policy and distance learning model that provides a flexible way to study. Online assignment submission, discussion groups and contact with tutors ensures that those who cannot attend face-to-face tutorials do not miss out and that you can fit your studies around any responsibilities that you may have. Registered carers are also able to access the OU’s Student Support Team here in Northern Ireland, who have been trained to understand the challenges that carers may face.

John D’Arcy, National Director for The Open University in Ireland said: “Carers contribute significantly to society and the economy, often unrecognised and sacrificing their own dreams to care for a loved one. We’re proud to be leading the way with the OU’s Carers’ Scholarships Fund here in Northern Ireland, which aims to give these incredible individuals the opportunity to help them to realise their ambitions through study.”

The fund is endorsed by Carers UK and Carers Trust.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “It’s fantastic that the OU has launched its Carers Scholarships Fund which will support carers, who often put their own wishes behind those of their loved ones, to pursue their educational interests.

“Caring for someone can be demanding and often carers feel unable to spend time on their own personal development. These scholarships will enable carers to better fit their studies around their caring responsibilities and approach learning in a way that works for them.”

Gareth Howells, CEO of Carers Trust added: “Carers Trust is thrilled to be working with The Open University for its Carers Scholarships Fund. Many young carers find it extremely challenging to combine their caring duties with their ambition to complete a degree. These scholarships, that are so well suited to carers’ needs, send a strong message that their contribution to society is recognised and valued.”


Find out more

About the Carers Scholarships Fund

*Full undergraduate qualification includes, CertHE, DipHE, Honours Degree, Foundation Degree or Open University Certificate. For further information, please visit

The OU's Carers Scholarship Fund opened on Wednesday 18 March for applications to apply for the scheme.


For media enquiries:

Contact Christine Murphy

Communications Manager
Tel 028 9053 6219