Going to university is an expensive endeavour, especially for those who refuse government backed student loans because they charge interest. Yet it is crucial to facilitate social mobility and allow many of us to access high skilled career paths.
In this article we will first give an overview of all the sources of support available to those wanting to pursue their university education without taking on interest based loans. We will then break down the different types of scholarships, grants and bursaries available.
We cover the following four sources:
- Charitable trusts
- External organisations
We then cover the following five types of scholarships, grants and bursaries:
- Financial need
- Widening access
- Academic achievement
- Industry specific
- Disability support
Funding sources & Strategies
There are seven main sources of funding/strategies you can deploy to get the funding you need.
1. Government support
Your first port of call should be to review what government support is available to you. You can check this on the Student Finance site. This will signpost you to the different types of support they provide. This can include bursaries for public sector careers such as social work or disability related support.
Universities will have their own support packages. This includes central support options open to all students as well as department specific support. So make sure you also look at the department that you are applying to.
They will also typically have hardship funds that you can apply for. If you are interested in postgraduate study, check whether your university offers an alumni discount. We have seen tuition fee discounts up to 50% offered!
3. Charitable trusts
Charities and trusts offer many grants that align with their charitable objectives. They will often be geared to very specific purposes so be sure to cast your net wide when searching!
Take the Leathersellers’ Company. They have a charitable fund that offers grants of up to £5k to help facilitate social mobility, a cause which they are passionate about.
4. Businesses or Industry bodies
Professional associations and companies offer scholarships as a way to attract talent. These awards could also be great for your future employment prospects as per the below example.
The Institute of Mechanical Engineers offers a Land Rover funded scholarship which also offers you an industrial placement with them.
5. Access schemes
Most universities automatically give between £1.5-3k in non-repayable grants to those from lower income backgrounds.
There’s usually no application process BUT you must apply to student finance to be means tested- this also applies when accessing hardship funds at universities. Keep an eye and call up to block payments from student finance as soon as the university has the info otherwise you will be charged interest as soon as they pay you.
6. Fee Waivers
It’s worth meeting with a senior member of the university (probably up to vice-chancellor level, not your tutors) and explaining your current situation. Universities spend thousands advertising to students so losing a current student is not in their best interest.
They’ll make more money from offering a fee waiver to help you complete your course than if you drop out and leave an empty seat in the cohort. Also, they’ll have a grateful alumnus- see it as a win-win. Worst case they say no and you’ll be in the same position but if this works it can free up a lot of time from work.
It may be that alongside the support you receive, its essential to work. Try to find jobs that pay higher rates. Tutoring in London and other big cities is a great way to earn up to £50 per hour. If you work in healthcare, nightshifts pay higher rates and working for an agency pay you even more. See: Your World, Staffing Professionals, Mayday, ID medical, Emergency Personnel.
Types of scholarships, grants and bursaries
1. Financial Need
There is a plethora of support available for students who wouldn’t be able to go to university without financial support. The support will often come in the form of annual grants for each year of study. Refer to the resources listed below on how to find these.
2. Access Schemes
There is a lot of support available for underrepresented groups. For example those who are part of the first generation in their family to go to university or are part of an underrepresented minority group.
Access schemes sometimes also offer lower entry requirements as well as potential financial support. The University of Bristol has an Access to Bristol scheme that can also come with a £3.8k bursary for eligible students.
3. Academic Achievement
If you have achieved strong A-level results you could be eligible for scholarships and bursaries from certain universities. Take Coventry University. They offer £1.5k to students who achieve at least 160 UCAS points.
Universities also offer progression scholarships where you are rewarded for strong performance in your first and second years of study. The University of Worchester automatically rewards high performing undergraduate students with £1k.
4. Industry specific
There will often be industry specific scholarships available to help make certain career paths in areas such as the arts or healthcare more accessible. We dig into a few of these below.
The NHS offer a really attractive support options for eligible students. This could include a £5k annual bursary. You can find more information here.
Law, policy or media
The Aziz Foundation support Muslims looking to do a postgraduate degree with a 100% tuition fee scholarship. However this is only available to British Muslims looking to study in Law, Policy or Media and Journalism disciplines. The course has to be with one of their preferred partners. This is a great resource to take advantage of if eligible. Find out more here.
Talented athletes could also bag themselves a scholarship if they have the potential to represent their university in their chosen sport. Coventry University offer such scholarships of £1.5k or £3k for qualifying students.
If you have a disability your first port of call should be the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) which will cover any adjustments you require. Your university will also have an obligation to help outside of the DSA so definitely check in with them.
External help from disability charities is a good route to explore for any support that can’t be provided by the government or your university. Snowdon Trust is one such charity that offers grants.
There are a number of central directories you can use to speed up the scholarship hunt. We list a couple below:
- The Scholarship Hub has a free database that allows you to search the scholarships offered by a university. Use this as a starting point but always cross reference with the university directly.
- To check whether you qualify for funding from a charitable trust, use the Turn2us grant search.
- Black Heart Foundation is a particularly good grant-issuing organisation – https://blackheartfoundation.org/welcome/
- HFK – http://www.hkf.org.uk/about-hkf/what-we-do
- Please check this resource out too: https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/university-tuition-fees/other-financial-support/other-bursaries-and-scholarships/
We hope this article has opened your mind to the various types of support available. It might be a cliché but remember, if you don’t ask, you won’t get!