Thursday, December 01, 2011

Open University Access to Success fund for poorer students

I just got an email from the Open University's Director of Development regarding a fund the OU are setting up to facilitate access to our courses for poorer students who will not have access to student loans or the government's new National Scholarship Funding. It deserves wider circulation hence I've reproduced a copy below.
"Dear Colleague,

I am writing to you as I am concerned about future funding for some widening participation students in England who take part in introductory Openings courses. For many students, successfully completing an Openings course means that they have the skills and the confidence to forge ahead to complete their chosen qualification.

However, the new National Scholarship Programme will not be available to Openings students, and nor will those students be eligible for loans. Those courses, though, are a vital gateway to OU study and give confidence to people with no prior Higher Education experience.

We have created an Access to Success fund which will specifically provide financial support for Openings students who cannot afford to pay their own fees. The University has asked the Development Office to raise money for this fund to ensure that those taking their first steps into Higher Education can do so without finance being a barrier to entry. I was delighted that the first £100,000 was donated by OU students themselves through a generous gift from the OU Students Educational Trust. I am now writing to you as a member of staff to ask you to consider making a donation. A wider fundraising appeal will start next year.

Ahead of a public launch, we have been given a time-limited opportunity for donations to be matched by Sir Alec Reed CBE, a friend and generous supporter of the OU, and the OU’s Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Lord Haskins. It means that a donation made next week through The Big Give Christmas Challenge (Sir Alec’s fundraising initiative) could be match-funded by both The Big Give and Lord Haskins. In addition, Gift Aid can be added. This means that in total, a donation of £10 could be worth £23 towards the new fund.

This is the first time that many OU staff members have been directly asked to consider making a donation to the University. These are unprecedented times for the institution. We are determined to ensure that we can continue to provide opportunities for the most disadvantaged.

Many members of staff already choose to contribute in this way. The OU is an educational charity and, over the years, many of its alumni, students, staff and friends have shown their support through donations. In fact, just last year, more than 9,000 people and organisations made contributions to the University totalling more than £2.4 million.

As a member of staff, your contribution to enriching our students’ lives is invaluable. I am hoping that you might consider joining me in supporting our students through this appeal and I will be in touch again next week to let you know how to donate.

Best wishes,

Edith Prak

Director of Development

The Open University"

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