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FutureLearn responds to student financial crisis with global scholarship initiative

Four ambitious learners to win life-changing learning opportunities, mentorship and funding to transform the world


Today, the UK’s leading social learning platform,, is announcing the launch of its inaugural FutureLearn Scholarship, to empower learners globally, whose career goal is to make the world a better place.


The FutureLearn Scholarship is open to applicants aged 16+, and aims to find 4 outstanding global learners with a passion to change the world within the Teaching, Sustainability, Technology & Coding, and Healthcare sectors. The 4 winners will receive: 

  • £4,000 of free online learning from FutureLearn and The Open University
  • £1,000 towards learning materials  
  • 8 hours of world-class mentorship 


One hundred additional runners up will receive a free annual subscription to FutureLearn Unlimited, providing access to thousands of short courses, tests and digital certificates. The scholarship will be open for applications until 30th November 2021, with winners and runners up announced on 7th February 2022. 


To apply for the scholarship, learners need to answer three short questions and attach a brief personal statement online. 


Learners who reach the final stage of the application process will be asked to submit a video-based interview that will be reviewed by judges from our expert panel. Judges include poet and mental health activist, Hussain Manawer; Climate Scientist and Presenter, Dr Ella Gilbert; and winner of the Global Teacher Award 2018, Andria Zafirakou, as well as leading figures in the Higher Education space, including The Open University’s Tim Plyming; The Institute of Coding’s Professor Rachid Hourizi; Monash University’s Professor Craig Hassed: and Rita F. D’Aoust: Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

Liz Le Breton, Brand Director at FutureLearn, said: “Our mission to transform access to education has always been about empowering learners to unlock their potential, change their lives and change the world around them for the better so this scholarship is a natural progression. In collaboration with our co-founder The Open University, this is a chance for anyone to change their story; get started, upskill, become an expert, retrain, discover a new side of yourself – whatever your goal, we know this amazing package of support will make all the difference at a difficult time for many.”


Tim Plyming, Managing Director, Paid Short Courses & Microcredentials at The Open University, said: “I’m delighted to be a judge on the panel for the FutureLearn Scholarship.  This initiative aligns with the OU’s mission and provides the opportunity for individuals to benefit from life-changing learning that will help them achieve their full potential and enrich their contribution to society in a post-pandemic world.  The world has changed in the last 18 months and the pandemic has accelerated the requirement for innovative, accessible learning as people upskill or re-skill to meet new global challenges. The FutureLearn Scholarship is designed to support individuals to do just that and I’m proud to be a part of it.”


Poet and Mental Health Activist, Hussain Manawer, added: “It’s great to be a part of the judging panel for FutureLearn’s Scholarship. It is so important for young people to know all the different options that are available to them, especially when it comes to decisions that will help shape their future. Working as a Mental Health ambassador and poet, I am vocal about my own personal struggles: one of them being the pressures that come with being young and figuring out your next steps. FutureLearn offers a variety of courses that allow for young people to tailor their learning and their thinking to what suits them best. I am looking forward to being on this journey with them and watching them explore subjects they are truly passionate about.” 


Notes to editors


Learn more about FutureLearn here. Full Terms and Conditions for The FutureLearn Scholarship can be found here


Additional comments from our expert panel of judges:


Professor Rachid Hourizi, Director of the Institute of Coding, said: “The Institute of Coding is pleased to support the FutureLearn Scholarship – an initiative that will help more people kick-start their career in an in-demand area like tech. We know from our work that the UK has a pressing digital skills gap and we need positive initiatives like this to support people into well-paying, high-quality employment in this key area of national need.”


Professor Craig Hassed MBBS, FRACGP, OAM, Mindfulness Coordinator and Director of Education at Monash University’s Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies, commented: “Online learning has opened up a whole new world of educational opportunities in an amazing and diverse array of fascinating topics. These FutureLearn scholarships are a brilliant initiative enabling the next generation to take steps towards creating a new future for themselves and also making an important contribution to the world.”


Rita F. D’Aoust, Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, also added: “Our learning environment and culture has fundamentally changed as individuals seek flexible yet authentic digital learning formats for targeted needs. FutureLearn provides an accessible and engaging platform that builds upon global expertise to meet multiple learning needs. Adult learners look for quality but flexible and affordable non-degree training to meet market and employer needs. I am excited to serve on the FutureLearn Scholarship panel and contribute to a rapidly advancing approach, especially given the unprecedented pivot in our workforce and learning market.”


Dr. Ella Gilbert, PhD, Climate Scientist and Presenter, said: “Inspiration and mentoring are so important when it comes to sustainability, the environment and climate change. Too often, we can feel paralysed by the enormity of the problems facing humanity, angry about the lack of action, confused about the most effective solutions, and unsure of where our skills and talents can be most usefully applied. Education gives people the tools to tackle the climate and ecological crises themselves, and empowers people to take actions to change the world for the better. I’m really pleased to be part of FutureLearn’s scholarship initiative, which I hope will encourage new people to gain skills and knowledge of sustainability topics.”


Andria Zafirakou, winner of the global 2018 teacher prize, said: “I am delighted to sit amongst other great names on the judging panel for FutureLearn’s Scholarship. Throughout my career, I have witnessed first-hand how important accessible education is to young people and I am hoping that this scholarship will give those who are seeking social and flexible learning the opportunity to fulfil just that. FutureLearn’s vast database of courses is perfect for someone looking for new opportunities outside of a traditional learning route. Their teaching and educational courses allow people to learn in ways that best suit them, helping them to build the skills needed in whatever life throws at them and I look forward to seeing the students showcase the passion they have for these subjects.”


About FutureLearn:

Here at FutureLearn, our purpose is to transform access to education. We do that by partnering with over a quarter of the world’s top universities to support millions of learners across the globe to develop skills and achieve their personal and professional goals. We’re a leading social learning platform founded in December 2012 by The Open University and are now jointly owned by The Open University in the UK and The SEEK Group. We use design, technology and partnerships to create enjoyable, credible and flexible short online courses and microcredentials, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. In addition to top universities, we also partner with leading organisations such as Accenture, the British Council, CIPD, Raspberry Pi and Health Education England (HEE), as well as being involved in government-backed initiatives to address skills gaps such as The Institute of Coding and the National Centre for Computing Education. 

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