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Care experienced

350 OU students in Scotland are care experienced.

Care experienced students are provided with specific support to study with The Open University in Scotland.

We know that many care experienced students have faced challenges in accessing higher education and in managing their studies alongside everything else going on in their lives.

The definition of care experience the OU uses is 'anyone of any age, who at any stage in their life has been in care. This can be for any length of time and includes a variety of settings, such as in residential children’s home, kinship care, foster care, or through living at home under a supervision order. It also includes adopted children who were previously looked after'.

Study support 

As a distance learning university we offer a unique student experience. You don’t need to move away from home and you can study at a time and a pace that works for you. You can choose to study for a degree, diploma or certificate, or take a stand-alone module. We provide supported, personalised learning.

Photo of a smiling young woman

If you are care experienced The Open University in Scotland offers you:

Financial support 

We provide guidance on funding, including:

Keeping informed 

Updating your student profile: 

If you have registered for OU study, to ensure you receive information about funding and support for care experienced students, please tell us that you have care experience by updating your OU student profile as follows:

  • Go to StudentHome – Profile (on left hand side of webpage) – Update personal details – About you – Identity, needs and circumstances – Edit details.  
  • Scroll up to the question headed ‘Care Leaver’. There are four options: I have never been in care / I was in care in Scotland for a time (up to the age of 18) / I have been in care in the rest of the UK / I do not wish to declare. 
  • Choose one and click the Submit tab at the bottom of the screen to update your record.  

Receiving newsletter for care experienced students: 

Our OU Scotland Cares Team send newsletters to care experienced students which include information about study support, financial support, events and opportunities. You will automatically receive these newsletters if you have declared your care experience in your student profile and have opted in to receive marketing emails. The recent editions are available here: April 2024 newsletter (.pdf), February 2024 newsletter (.pdf), January 2024 newsletter (.pdf). 

Proud corporate parents

Care experienced students helping to develop the Corporate Parenting in Higher Education course All universities and colleges in Scotland are named corporate parents, responsible for upholding the rights and safeguarding the wellbeing of care experienced students. We take our responsibilities as a corporate parent seriously. More information on how we support care experienced students is in our Corporate Parenting Plan (.pdf). 

We are always keen to hear from our care experienced students and those who are interested in studying with us about how we can improve their learning experience with us.

We also work in partnership with other organisations to better understand the needs of care experienced students, and to ensure that resources to fully support care experienced students are developed.

For example, we offer Corporate Parenting in Higher Education, a free short online module for staff at all universities in Scotland. The course was developed with Who Cares Scotland? and care experienced students (pictured), to help improve support for care experienced students. It was also adapted by the College Development Network to provide a Corporate Parenting in Colleges course.