Student Finance

What is a scholarship?

Ben Maples  · May 20th 2024  · 4 min

University can be an expensive experience. If you’re looking for some extra support, a scholarship may help.


With university, sometimes a little extra goes a long way, and having something like a university scholarship, will only help you out more. Here, we’ll take a look at what a scholarship is, how they work as well as how and when to apply.

The scholarship hub.

What is a scholarship?

A scholarship is a financial award to help support you in your studies and are usually awarded to students excelling in a subject, sport or hobby. The great thing about scholarships? You don’t have to pay them back!

Scholarships cover a variety of different things when at university. Some might cover your tuition fees, some might cover your general living costs and some might cover your equipment. The scholarship will vary depending on where you're applying and who’s offering it.

The main types of scholarships are:

  • Academic excellence scholarships: Awarded for academic performance.
  • Company scholarships: Industry associations are using scholarships to encourage new talent to join their industry.
  • Musical scholarships: Awarded for showing exceptional skill in music. Even better, you don’t have to study a Music degree to be eligible!
  • Personal circumstances: Awarded to students who are in exceptional circumstances, such as caregivers.
  • Sporting achievement: Awarded if you’ve made outstanding achievements in sport. You’ll likely have to compete for the university in your chosen sport.
  • Subject-specific scholarships: Awarded if you're studying a specific subject.
  • Your interests and hobbies: Awarded based on your extra-curricular activities. This could be anything from social engagement or improving the lives of others.

Do only universities offer scholarships?

Not at all! Company scholarships are a great way to get a financial incentive for university. Even better, most of these kinds of scholarships come with some kind of connecting tie to the company that gave you it, meaning there could even be a job at the end of it!

Oxford scholarship online.

Can I get more than one scholarship at a time?

Yes, you can! It’s a long process, as you might have certain terms of a scholarship that contradict the terms of another one, but there’s still no reason you can’t have more than one, if you qualify for them.

The further you spread your net, the more you’ll catch!

Can I still get a scholarship if I’ve already started university?

Lots of scholarships have rolling deadlines and can be taken up at pretty much any point.

You don’t even have to be in your first year! There are plenty of students who apply for a scholarship in their second or third years.

Are there personal circumstance scholarships?

Scholarships are usually awarded to recognise an achievement, rather than to help students in specific circumstances. Some personal circumstance scholarships do exist, but they’re somewhat rare. In situations like these, bursaries can be awarded by the university based on personal circumstances. Similarly, grants are offered to students by a charity or trust.

How do I find scholarships?

If your university offers scholarships, it will have a dedicated scholarships page with the application criteria.

You can also check The Scholarship Hub or Postgraduate search to search for specific types of scholarships. Scholarships and bursaries tend to be a bit trickier to find compared to grants, since scholarships are usually only offered under very specific circumstances by a university or company.

Other places to look include:

It sounds a little clichéd, but there really is a scholarship for everyone. You can get really niche with your scholarships if you look hard enough. You can even get a vegetarian scholarship or a Quidditch grant so let your imagination run wild!

Define scholarship.

How do I apply for a scholarship?

The application process varies depending on what scholarship you're applying for. Some will be fairly easy, in that you just need to apply, prove you qualify and then voilà, you’ve been accepted!

Others, sadly, are not as easy to apply for. Some may ask you to have specific grades before you will be accepted, attend an interview or be asked to provide references.

Your application for a scholarship should be no different to writing your personal statement. Double, triple, quadruple and quintuple-check your application before you send it off. Make sure you haven’t made any spelling or grammar mistakes.

When should I apply?

We suggest getting these things done as soon as you can, but we understand that’s not always possible.

Your best bet is to speak to whoever is offering the scholarship and see when the deadline is and if there’s much flexibility. As soon as you can apply, do it! The sooner you have an understanding of your student budget, the quicker you can make sure you’re set-up for a year at uni.

How much can I get from a scholarship?

That really depends on the scholarship. Some scholarships might offer you a full year’s tuition and some might cover your equipment, or living costs.

Whenever you apply for a scholarship, you will be told how much you’re entitled to.

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