The Benefits of the Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship Fund at the Open University, UK

Simons, Joan; Snowden, Michael and Fairbairn, Kate (2023). The Benefits of the Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship Fund at the Open University, UK. Journal of Veteran Studies, 92(2) pp. 58–70.



The Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship Fund (DVSF) was set up by the United Kingdom (UK) Open University (OU) to meet the needs of those who were injured in UK military service or medically discharged by providing 100 free places to study for a degree. The purpose of the study was to ascertain the experience of study and the benefits of the scholarship fund for veteran scholars, as well as identify what they needed to be successful in their studies. This study took a qualitative participatory research approach, which involved 24 semistructured telephone interviews with 14 veteran scholars over a period of 5 months, followed by a live online event to feedback the findings of the interviews and look to the future of study for the veterans. The two main benefits of the scholarship fund were that the OUs open entry system meant that a lack of formal qualifications was not a barrier to study, and through the DVSF, study was free. Although the university offered a range of supportive services there was a perceived misalignment between the support the veterans were used to during their military service and the support that was provided by the OU, which led to frustrations. Despite this finding there was a perception by the support service at the OU that the veterans were a hard-to-reach group, and recognition that a community of support was needed. Both issues were partly addressed through an online student hub live event. The support services at the OU worked alongside the evaluation project team to devise a bespoke programme that brought many of the veterans together for the first time. The DVSF has been successful in providing study to disabled veterans. The next step is to build a community of peer support for the veterans as they progress in their studies to meet their career goals.

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