Funding your studies at university can be hard. While most students are eligible for student loans, often it’s not enough to cover all of your living costs. So, some extra money – that you don’t have to pay back – is always more than welcome.
That’s where scholarships, grants and bursaries come in. These are sums of money given to students to spend towards their education that doesn’t need to be returned.
However, when doing research, most students only look at the scholarships and bursaries offered by the university they wish to study at. They forget to think about what other scholarships, grants and bursaries are available.
But with over £4.5m worth of funds offered by external organisations (not the universities themselves), it really might pay to do your research.
What scholarships are available to UK university students?
Scholarships can be awarded for many different reasons and this is often dependent on the type of organisation that's awarding the scholarships. Here are the different types of scholarships available:
Academic excellence scholarships
These are offered to students who achieve specific grades in their A-levels. And not all are asking for applicants to achieve A*A*A* - some offer money for ABB or less.
If you are a talented musician or singer you could apply for a music scholarship. For many, you do not even have to be studying music at uni, you just have to be happy to perform in some capacity while at the university.
These types of scholarships are based on things that are specific to your personal circumstances, such as the area in which you live, whether you’ve been in care, or based on your religion. These scholarships might come from local authorities, religious organisations, or charities.
These scholarships give money to individuals who are in need financially. These are more often called grants or bursaries.
If you are a talented athlete or sportsperson, you might be awarded a sports scholarship. In most cases you’ll have to be continuing your sport either for a university team or at a local/national team level.
More and more companies and professional organisations are starting to offer scholarships and some include work experience and mentoring as part of the offer.
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.
Increasingly, scholarships are being offered by companies where all students have to do is submit an essay or video. These are usually offered by companies looking to achieve greater brand awareness among the student population, but who cares? If they’re giving away free money, you might as well have a go!
Not sure how to find scholarships? Here's where to look:
Your chosen university
The first place you should look to find scholarships is your chosen uni. If you know which university you're going to, take a look at their website and see what scholarships they offer (we also have scholarship information on our uni profile pages – find your uni here).
It's 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 choices.
External scholarship providers
The Scholarship Hub is a free online database of all the scholarships available to UK students and includes those offered by universities as well as all the more general scholarships which are not related to a specific university. So even if you haven’t yet decided where you'll be going, this can be a good place to look and compare what’s on offer.
It's also worth taking the time to research some of the smaller charities which give grants for educational support. The Guide to Educational Grants is a book that lists the smaller charities which give grants for educational purposes.
New scholarships are being created all the time and they're not only offered to new students. There are scholarships for current students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, so don’t just look once and stop. Keep an eye out throughout your studies and you could get a nice boost of extra cash in your pocket.
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