Healthcare providers across Scotland can benefit from the OU’s unique open-access programmes which enable their staff to become nurses.  

Helen Kafantari Maciver at Western Isles Hospital. Photo by Leila Angus.Staff at all NHS Boards in Scotland can participate in the OU Future Nurse programme. The funded programme includes routes for those already working in healthcare support worker roles to become registered nurses. 

We also work in partnership with employers in the independent healthcare sector to help them to develop their staff.

OU students can remain in employment to ‘earn as they learn’ and employers can retain their workforces.

OU Future Nurse Programme - Pre-Registration Nursing Degrees: 

Bachelor of Science (Honours) Nursing degrees - can enable healthcare support workers to become nurses.

These degrees are approved by the Nursing Midwifery Council and all four fields of nursing practice are offered: adult, mental health, learning disability, and children and young people.

Places are funded by the Scottish Government and the OU’s open access ethos and distance learning approach means that the university is open to everyone, regardless of qualifications or location; no qualifications are required for most OU courses and students can study where and when suits their lives. 

Nursing does have minimum numeracy and communication skills requirements which are set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.  

The OU Future Nurse Programme has one intake date, in October of each year, with applicants needing to undertake a full recruitment process. This process commences at the beginning of each calendar year.

2024 entry

Please note our closing date for submitting applications for October 2024 entry to the Scotland Nursing Programme was 10 March 2024.  Applications for 2024 entry are now closed.  

2025 entry

Our programme information booklet (.pdf) has information on the programme, including the entry requirements and how to apply for October 2025. 

Please note that all applicants must have achieved the equivalent of SCQF Level 5 in Literacy (English) and Numeracy (Maths) and be able to provide evidence of this at the time of application. The programme information booklet provides more information on this including how to check if you have achieved them, and ways to achieve them if required.

Applications will open in early 2025. To ensure that you receive updates on the programme, please complete the enquiry form within Section 14 of the programme information booklet. 

We are delivering online awareness sessions on various dates between 4 June and 3 October 2024, to enable you to find out more about the programme, and how you can prepare to study nursing with The Open University. You can find out more in our flyer about the Become a Registered Nurse Information Sessions (.pdf).  

Certificate and Diploma:  

Courses suitable for healthcare workers also include: 

Employers can sponsor their students for this range of qualifications. Other potential financial support options are on our fees and funding page, including the part-time fee grant for undergraduate students with personal incomes of less than £25,000. 

OU nursing graduates share their stories

Find out more about OU nursing studies from some of our graduates:

OU nursing graduate Elvira

Elvira Viray 

Elvira Viray fulfilled her dream of becoming a full-time staff nurse in a Highlands care home through OU studies: doing an access course to nursing, then an Honours degree.

Helen Kafantari Maciver

Helen Kafantari Maciver  

Helen Kafantari Maciver shares her journey from healthcare assistant to staff nurse with NHS Western Isles, via an Open University degree in this blog and video.

OU nursing graduate Jenny

Jenny Welsh  

Accident and Emergency staff nurse Jenny Welsh was a healthcare assistant in her local Shetland maternity ward when she decided to study for an OU nursing degree.

Julie Plenderleith

Julie Plenderleith  

"I carried on for my dad to make him proud" says graduate nurse Julie Plenderleith.

Kombe Mwarandu

Kombe Mwarandu  

Before he was an award-winning nurse, Kombe Mwarandu was working as a receptionist at his local GP surgery. He shares how achieving his OU Adult Nursing degree has enabled him to achieve his career dreams.

Leeanne MacPherson - photo by Neil Hanna

Leeanne MacPherson  

Keeping it in the family, Leeanne MacPherson followed in their footsteps and trained to become a nurse with The Open University, and has since encouraged her sister to do the same.

Lois Gaffney

Lois Gaffney  

Lois Gaffney's OU nursing studies enabled her to upskill while working as a healthcare support worker at a hospital in Shetland. This led her to win Nursing Student of the Year 2022 at the prestigious Royal College of Nursing Scotland awards.

Mahri Carmichael

Mahri Carmichael  

Mahri Carmichael is a healthcare support worker and learning disabilities nursing OU degree student. In this blog, she reflects on her route into nursing and choosing this specialism.

Nursing graduate Nicola Hehir holding her baby and an Open University scroll - photo by Julie Howden.

Nicola Hehir

Accident and Emergency healthcare support worker Nicola Hehir had not had an opportunity to go to university, but gained her First-class Honours OU nursing degree while she worked.