The Open University has launched a new programme in collaboration with the John Lewis Partnership to offer young people with experience of being in care the opportunity to study for free.
The Care Experienced Scholarship is launching for the first time this year, offering four full undergraduate scholarships to young people aged 25 and under, who have spent time in care.
The scheme links to the John Lewis Partnership’s existing ‘Building Happier Futures’ programme, which aims to support and improve the lives of young people who have grown up in care.
It forms part of a series of scholarships offed by The Open University, worth £3 million in total.
Professor Tim Blackman, Vice Chancellor at The Open University, said: “We want to ensure that young people who have been in care have the same chances and opportunities in life as other young people. Education enables students to pursue their passions, to be creative, curious, and develop lifelong skills and knowledge that can unlock brighter futures and careers. It is an experience that should be open to everyone.
“The flexibility of the OU in enabling part-time study while working and offering the opportunity to study from anywhere in the country, means that we are well placed to support young, care-experienced students to succeed with us. In the current financial climate, we are pleased to offer this additional financial support which we hope will remove further obstacles to study.”
Sharon White, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, comments: "Too few young people leaving the care system are given the opportunities they deserve. In fact, more young people are likely to be made homeless than go to university.
"This scholarship programme is a significant moment in ensuring we start to correct that inequality, as well as to harness the exceptional talents and abilities of the care experienced community. We are therefore delighted to be working alongside The Open University to provide this opportunity for care experienced young people and to help them discover all the incredible things they're capable of.
“This is just the start and we are committed to flying the flag for the care community for the long term to ensure they not only feel seen and heard, but empowered and supported to reach their fullest potential."
The deadline for applications is midnight on 26 July 2023, more information can can be found on the application pages here.