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Carers and Disabled Veterans Scholarships Funds open for applications

The Open University’s Carers and Disabled Veterans Scholarships Funds are today (18 March) open for applications to apply for both schemes.

Supporting those that support others

The Carers Scholarships Fund will provide 50 UK-based carers with funding for a full undergraduate qualification*. To ensure young adult carers are encouraged to apply, 15 places have been reserved for those between the ages of 18-25. Supported by alumni donations, applications are open until 31 July, with studies commencing in October 2020.

It is reported that there are 6.5 million people providing unpaid support for a family member or friend with an illness, disability, mental health condition or addiction. The tasks that they perform can be unexpected and 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 OU is the ideal place for carers to study, it has an open access entry policy and a 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. Registered carers are also able to access the OU’s Student Support Team, who have been trained to understand the challenges that carers may face.

Jhumar Johnson, Director of Development at The Open University 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, 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 Open University 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.”

Helping our veterans find a new path

Returning for its third year, applications have opened to enable 50 more disabled veterans’ to build on their unique military skills and experiences with a qualification from the OU.

The Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund provides veterans’ with the opportunity to study at undergraduate or postgraduate level for free. The OU has given 105 scholarships so far, helping individuals from a variety of service backgrounds, who have a range of complex health challenges due to service including those that suffer with mental health conditions.

There are around 2.6 million veterans’ living in the UK. More than four in ten (44%) of veterans with a disability reported that they found the experience of finding the right job role difficult.

The Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund is tailored to fully support all disabled veterans, injured in or due to service, as they transition to civilian life, providing a free OU education and wraparound disability and careers service support.

Daniel: “After being injured and struggling with life, I couldn’t see what my options were. The Open University gives me flexibility, so I can work around my sports. It also helps me mentally and with my disability. So, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can get some work done. It works around me. The OU support is also great, they help with work placements and they try to accommodate your situation to help you learn to the best of your abilities.”

Kate: One thing that seems clear to me, speaking both as a former health professional and a recovering veteran, is that focus on a positive goal can be very beneficial. I would urge anyone considering applying for a scholarship to go for it. The OU will not be the answer to everything, but it just might be a part of the answer.”

Matt: Music has been a comfort, a joy and a therapy ever since I was injured and so I applied for the Music Degree. I am loving the study, I don’t feel pressure to put the time in, I really enjoy it. It’s a useful escape. I wouldn’t be able to cope with a traditional college or university, so this suits me very well.”

Jhumar Johnson, Director of Development, The Open University said:

“With the UK suffering from a shortage of skilled individuals, we have a community of veterans with a wealth of talents and skills that can be recognised and developed. Our priority is to ensure that recipients can take full advantage of educational opportunity, building confidence and knowledge which helps open up a future, bright with potential to thrive in a post-service career.

“The OU supports over 27,000 students with a registered disability, delivering distance learning straight into student’s homes, helping people learn anywhere at any time irrespective to the mental or physical health challenges they might face.”

Sir Christopher Coville KCB FRAeS, Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund Ambassador said:

“As a Pioneer Graduate of the Open University, and an ex-serviceman, I recognise both the effort required to complete an OU degree, but also the immense value gained from doing so. I am proud to be an ambassador for a programme which is changing the lives of our disabled veterans.”

Find out more

About the Carers Scholarships Fund

About the Disabled Veterans Scholarships Fund 

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

About Author

Hannah is part of the Media Relations Team at The Open University, working with the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies. With experience both agency and in-house, Hannah has worked on campaigns for a number of large corporate companies and brands, including RBS, NatWest, Travelodge, Audible, AA and the Royal Academy of Dance. She has completed a Masters in Publishing Studies from Oxford Brookes and is currently studying towards a DipHE in Computer, IT and Design. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading and going to the theatre.

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