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Uni Scholarships, Grants and Bursaries

With the cost of going to university soaring, a little bit of extra money to help you on the way will always be welcome. When you are doing your research, don’t forget to think about the scholarships, grants and bursaries you may be eligible for.

The terms scholarship, grant and bursary is often used interchangeably and it can be quite confusing but the basic principle of each is the same. This is money that is awarded to you which you do not have to pay back.

Despite popular belief, they are not only given to the very academic or financially disadvantaged students. Scholarships can be awarded for many different reasons and this is often dependent on the type of organisation that is awarding the scholarships.

The different types of scholarships available:

  1. Academic Excellence Scholarships: many universities offer scholarships to students who achieve specified grades in their A Levels to encourage the higher achieving students to choose their university. They are not all asking for A*AA, some are offering money for ABB or less.
  1. Musical Scholarships: If you are good at singing or playing a musical instrument, and would be happy to perform during your stay at the university, you could be awarded with a musical scholarship. You do not have to be studying Music to be eligible.
  1. Personal Circumstances: Scholarships that are based on your personal circumstances, such as where you come from, if you are a care leaver, what your parents do for a living or your religion. These might come from local authorities or religious organisations or charities.
  1. Financial Need: These are the more traditional type of scholarships which award money to individuals who are in financial need and may not be able to attend university without the money. These are often called grants or bursaries and you may need to prove your financial situation to be awarded.
  1. Sporting achievement. If you have made outstanding achievements in sport, many universities will offer scholarships to attract the best talent. You will of course have to compete for the university in your sport.
  1. Company scholarships:  More and more companies are starting to offer scholarships and some include work experience as part of the offer. Industry Associations are also using scholarships to encourage new talent to join their profession. Females studying Engineering are in particular demand.
  1. Your interests and hobbies – there are some scholarships which are based on your extra-curricular activities such as showing a commitment to social engagement or improving the lives of others.
  1. Other scholarships – increasingly there are more scholarships being offered by companies, where all students have to do is submit an essay or video. Quite a few are coming from America, where scholarships are much more commonplace and these American companies are now opening up their scholarships to UK students. Others are from UK companies who are starting to realise the opportunities of this scheme.

How do I find scholarships?

First of all you should take a look at the websites of the Universities you are interested in and see what scholarships they have to offer. It is not advisable to choose a university or course purely based on what financial help is available but it could be a deciding factor when you come to make your final choice.

The Scholarship Hub is a website which allows you to search a database of all the scholarships available to UK students. There are listings for each university as well as scholarships which are not related to a specific university. To find these select “No specific University” in your search. There is a useful comparison tool, which allows you to select up to six scholarships available for your subject from different universities and compare them.

It is also worth taking the time to research some of the smaller charities, such as Turn2Us and FamilyAction, that give grants for educational support. The Guide, which will also help students find suitable grants from small charities to educational grants, is a book which lists all of these and can be found in larger libraries.

What are my chances of getting a scholarship?

There is certainly not a scholarship out there for everyone, but if you are eligible to apply, it is worth doing so. Organisations offering scholarships are not always inundated with applications and you could find the odds are stacked in your favour.

When should I apply?

The application deadline for scholarships varies. You should check each one to find out when to apply however do remember that some require you to apply before you know your A-level results and others once you have your place confirmed at university. There are also scholarships available for when you are in your second or third year at university, keep an eye out whilst you are studying as a cash boost every now and then will always be welcome to a student.