The Open Futures Sanctuary scholarships offers refugees opportunity for free study


An Open Futures Sanctuary Scholarship provides new, UK-resident students who have been displaced from their homeland or place of residence for political, economic, ethnic, environmental, or human rights pressures, the opportunity to study for free.

Scholarship applications are now available for 12 scholarships in 2023/24. Scholarships are available for up to 360 credits at OU, and cover the entire tuition costs of these credits.

The scholarship recipients will receive a starter kit of free equipment so that they can start studying right away. The starter package will include Microsoft Office on a Laptop, a Laptop Case, a Keyboard and Mouse, Printer Ink, Paper and a Printer.

Maria, a woman who fled the Ukraine war with just her laptop, guitar, and a backpack, is currently retraining through the OU for a new career in IT.

“I used to be a lawyer in Ukraine, but then the war started, and I was stuck in a blockade for three weeks,” explained Maria.

 “The time without signal, electricity and water made me revaluate all principles and I promised myself that if I stayed alive, from now on I will do only the things I truly like. So, when I escaped and came to the UK, I knew it was my chance to make some changes.”

Maria worked as an IT lawyer at a large Kyiv-based company. She planned to change to a more technicial role, but she was nervous about the big career switch and the need to retrain. But the war unexpectedly changed her plans. She seized the opportunity and started again.

Maria was lucky that as soon as her partner heard about the current situation in Ukraine, she received a visa.

“My boyfriend who is studying with The Open University saw a news item about the Sanctuary Scholarships and convinced me to apply.”

“I felt so incredibly lucky and grateful when I heard I had been awarded a scholarship,” said Maria. “Having a degree in IT will be of great benefit and essential when applying for the job roles I am interested in. A degree will increase my chances of working for a larger company or even possibly setting up my own business.”

Maria is happy with her studies, and she hopes that they will lead to greater opportunities for her in the future.

“Studying makes me feel that I am achieving something every day,” explained Maria. “This feeling encourages me to live and believe in better future for me and my family. It’s already helped me at work, as I have found it easier to communicate with my colleagues as they are English speaking developers.

“Thank you for making this possible for me and giving me something positive in my life.”

The Sanctuary Scholarship is part of a £3 million support package to help disadvantaged groups study during the cost-of-living crisis.

Applicants who do not receive a Sanctuary Scholarship can study for 30 credits of Open University Access starting October 2023.

Find out more and submit your application before midnight on the 12th of July 2023.

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