From education to employment

Open University programme offers Black students chance for free study

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The Open University is offering 50 UK-based Black students on lower incomes the chance to study a degree for free.

The Black Students Support Fund is part of a life-changing package of scholarships and bursaries worth more than £3 million offered by the University to address inequity in access and success in education.

Those who successfully apply for the scholarship can study flexibly to fit in with family or existing work commitments.

Support for the scholarships programme comes from Lord Dr Michael Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE; City entrepreneur Dawid Konotey-Ahulu CBE;  international corporate consultant Griselda Togobo, CEO of Forward Ladies; Magnus Djaba, Chief Client Officer of Publicis Groupe; Patrick Hutchinson author of Everyone vs. Racism; Joan Armatrading, acclaimed singer-songwriter, and philanthropist Tevin Tobun, OU Council Member and CEO of logistics and tech group Gate Ventures Group.

Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE, is Chair of the Advisory Board at the Black Business Institute, Chair of the London Chamber of Commerce and the Industry’s Black Business Association. He said: “I’m incredibly pleased to give my support to this initiative for the second year running.

“Given the cost-of-living crisis, I hope people from minority groups who were already financially struggling to cope will see this as a true lifeline to enable them to reach for a better life through higher education.

“It is education that still remains a powerful weapon to build equity and opportunity and that is exactly what the scholarships offer. I urge people to spread the word and encourage people who qualify to apply.”

Last year, Lara was one of the students to win a place and is now in her first year of an Open Degree. She said: “I am so happy that the OU is encouraging more Black students to study. By studying for an Open Degree I get the chance to pick different subjects, which will all help me to achieve my dream of setting up my own business. I am excited for the future.”

The OU is the UK’s largest university, with over 50 years of experience in supported distance learning. Students learn through a combination of distance learning and face-to-face online tutor support; 71 per cent of students are already in work; 75 per cent of students had no formal Higher Education qualifications upon entry.

Professor Marcia Wilson, the OU’s Dean of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said:

“This scholarship helps address the gap in the number of Black people who enter higher education studies at the OU, where Black students are under-represented.

“It is important that this under-representation is addressed so that disadvantaged Black students are able to progress and make vital contributions to the world of work.”

The BSSF covers OU undergraduate credit-bearing modules and qualifications, paying for the full tuition cost of a qualification, up to 120 credits each seasonal academic year and 360 credits in total.

Eligibility includes those who identify as Black, or as Mixed heritage, and who have a personal annual income of less than £25,000 or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit.

The Open University’s Open Futures Fund, under which the Black Students’ Support Fund sits, is at the heart of the OU’s mission to make higher education accessible to all, championing equity and inclusion.

It is aimed at removing barriers to study, particularly amongst disadvantaged groups and those under-represented within the OU’s student body.

The Fund provides life-changing scholarships, bursaries, and support for disabled veterans, carers, refugees and asylum seekers, and young people who have been in care to realise their ambitions and start their study journey. The OU is offering a total of 136 fully funded degree places for the next academic year 2023/24.

Since 2014, the Open Futures Fund has awarded more than 430 scholarships and hundreds of bursaries, totalling over £10 million, thanks to the generosity of OU alumni, supporters and friends.

For more information and full Terms & Conditions of the Black Students’ Support Fund, and to apply for one of the 50 places available before the 19 July deadline, visit the application pages:

The Black Students’ Support Fund

Scholarship for Black Students | Open University

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