Project information

The Open University Access to Success Fund

The OU Access to Success Fund will help ensure that everyone has equal opportunity to access higher education. It will offer financial support to students taking their first steps with the OU - especially those who are disadvantaged by the recent changes in Government funding for UK universities.

September 2012 - September 2013

Charity information: The Open University

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  • Need


    The Open University is committed to being open to all, but will be required to increase fees in light of changes to UK Government spending on higher education. This presents a real risk that students with low previous educational qualifications, students on low incomes, disabled students and those lacking in confidence might be deterred from studying at higher education level because of the cost of fees. As such, their true potential may never be realised.


    The OU's Access to Success Fund will provide new opportunities for those who wish to study at higher education level, but who lack the confidence to commit to a full-time course and/or long-term student loan. The Fund will provide financial support for those taking their very first steps with the OU, many of whom will be from disadvantaged backgrounds. This will help them to reach a stage at which they feel more assured of success, and confident to commit to further study and loan commitments.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    We aim to continue to provide equal opportunities for those wishing to access higher education.


    » We will provide financial support to those who are marginalised as a result of increased fees - acting as a springboard to their new learning journey.

    What success will look like

    Success will be demonstrated by the number of people studying and succeeding with the OU who are supported by the Fund, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • Impact


    In the longer-term, the OU will continue to provide opportunities for all to study at higher education level - as was its mission when it was established in 1969. The OU believes that everyone should have the chance to realise their true potential through education, regardless of their financial, social or personal situation. Long-term success will be evident in the number of people who, after benefiting from the Fund, go on to achieve their ambitions and dreams.


    There is a risk that demand for financial support from the Access to Success Fund will exceed the amount available. To manage this risk, the OU will implement a process that ensures fair disbursal of funds. There is also a risk that beneficiaries of the Fund will not continue their studies beyond the supported period. However, evidence shows that, after successfully completing a first module, OU students have much greater self-confidence to assume responsibility for their continued learning.


    Supporters of this project will receive an annual report on project activities highlighting successes, challenges and learning that can be shared with others. In addition, brief updates will be sent by email, as key developments take place.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £1,000,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £1,000,000 Financial Support Financial support to OU students in line with the Fund criteria.
  • Background


    The UK is facing unprecedented changes to higher education funding. Many people who wish to study at higher education level will face increased fees and, therefore, may have fewer opportunities. Compounding this is the fact that those taking their first module with the OU (at a level lower than 30 credits) will not be eligible for a student loan. As such, there is a risk that many people in the UK will "fall through the gaps" and be unable to realise their true potential through education.


    This project will benefit those who wish to study at higher education level, but who are unable to commit to a full-time course or lack the confidence to take on a long-term student loan. It is for those who are taking their very first steps into higher education, who do not yet have the self-belief that they can succeed. Once they have successfully passed their first module, supported by the Fund, they will have the courage and confidence to continue their studies and apply for a student loan.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The OU has always striven to be open to all, and never before has this been more important to the UK population. At a time when many traditional universities are increasing fees and withdrawing opportunities for part-time study, the OU will remain the UK's main provider of flexible, affordable, high quality education for many - especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. At a time when the UK people need new ways to learn, often while they earn, the OU is best-placed to respond.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Mrs Margaret Hart

    Margaret Hart, Head of Widening Participation at the OU, is spearheading this initiative and committed to ensuring equal access for OU students.