Fifty scholarships will be given out to students who are black or of mixed black heritage and are on fixed incomes of less than £25,000 a year.
The move is to promote social justice and racial equity, says the OU, which is offering 132 fully funded degree places worth a total of £2.6m this year.
This is the first year the scholarship for black students has been launched and it comes through the Black Students Support Fund.
The fund covers OU undergraduate credit-bearing modules and qualifications and the full tuition cost of a qualification, with up to 120 credits each academic year and 360 credits in total.
People who successfully apply for the scholarship can study flexibly, including spreading their learning over more than three years if they wish, to fit in with family or existing work commitments.
Professor Marcia Wilson, the OU’s Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said: “The OU has 50 years’ experience providing high-quality, respected flexible study that incorporates online learning blended with one-to-one tutor support. This scholarship award specifically for Black students makes perfect sense to us so we can promote social justice and racial equity.”
One student who has already experienced the wider benefits of OU study is Candace Louison, who studied for her degree in Business Management while working full-time, impressing employers with her dedication and discipline.
“If your family is not well off, there's less urgency to pursue higher education. The urgency is bringing in income, you know, to multiply the household income so I think there should be a stress on the fact that you can do both,” she said.
“I want students, especially from black communities to know you can achieve something even if circumstances aren’t in your favour.”
Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE is Ambassador for the Black Students Support Fund. He said: “For so many students literally every penny of available support counts towards the bigger goal of achieving an endorsed and completed university education.
“Black students now have an even better solid foundation of credit to create a future that serves society and their own curiosity.”
For more information about the Black Students Support Fund, visit here