Student Bursary Guide

Student bursaries are available to a wide range of students claimed from your Higher Education Institute or directly from the government.

You'll need to check with your own institution to see what is available to you. The major plan in the UK is the NHS student bursary scheme, but universities also offer bursaries.

What Are Bursaries?

A bursary is a non-repayable financial support cash amount you receive as a student usually provided to new students on lower incomes. The smaller the income, the more the bursary award. You usually only receive these awards when you pay tuition fees in full.

The amount is paid directly to the student, and you should not have to complete additional forms to get it. Some universities base scholarships on academic qualifications while others don't. Bursaries are usually used like top-up fees and are designed to pay towards tuition fees or cover living expenses.

The bursary application process is somewhat automated in that if you provide consent in your student finance application form PN1 (under "bursary consent") then the bursary will be calculated and paid to you. Bursaries are usually paid in the Spring of each year but check your institution for more information.

Types of Bursaries

Most universities and colleagues base their policies on household income (in that if you are from a lower income family you are effectively means tested). The threshold varies between institutions, but it's anywhere between £25,000 and £50,000. There are other non means tested schemes like Derby University that offer awards if you are a local resident.

Some colleagues offer an endowment if you are studying for a particular discipline. For example, Lincoln University offers sports bursaries if you're an amateur sports person and are continuing that training (even if you're not studying sport).

The best advice is to check your local college or university to see what they offer. All applications forms are accessed online. Several websites have pulled all this information together, and you can see what's on offer below.

Others offer bursaries for international students, but the most popular is the NHS bursary scheme as detailed below.

NHS Bursary Scheme

The NHS runs a bursary scheme for some clinical careers mainly targeting dentistry and GPs. The scheme pays an award to students on qualified health professional training courses. Bursaries for nurses and midwives ceased to exist in early 2017.

If you qualify, the NHS pays all your tuition fees direct to your university. Full details are on the government website.

Bursaries in Scotland

As with loans and grants in Scotland, you could receive additional funding not available to English students.

The bursary is not income-assessed, so apply for it immediately!

Course YearAmount
Years 1,2 and 3£6,578
Year 4£4,934

You could also receive a dependants' allowance of up to £3,640 per year. See the Student Awards Agency Scotland site for full details of all these awards.

Placement Bursaries

A university may offer a placement bursary which is used to pay the student a salary whilst on their placement year or year overseas.

Other Bursaries

Many universities offer additional funding to help student finances and you need to enquire on their website to see what's on offer. Such bursary funding may include:

  • Childcare grant - to assist with child care.
  • Bridging loans - small amounts of money to help you through short term borrowing issues.
  • Learning funds - to help cases of hardship for students and are non-repayable loans.
  • Emergency loan funds - like the bridging loan for emergency cash.
  • Named person bursaries - there are various schemes for specific research projects.
  • Alumni awards - awarded on the attainment of academic excellence.
  • Scholarships - many scholarship programmes are available for those who have attained excellent results in A levels - these get paid in instalments as long as your pass mark generally continues to be over 70%.

Sources of Funding

Many awards are now reduced or no longer exist, but there are offers out there. Check the resources below to find funding to help you through college.

Whatever field you are going to study in please check your university or college to see what student bursaries are available and if you qualify.