Scholarships: What you need to know

Looking to fund your studies? 

Unfortunately, the cost of studying may be a blocker for a number of people who want to further their education. But it doesn’t have to be. Scholarships are just one of many ways to make studying affordable – and with scholarships available for students in a wide range of situations, there could be more options out there than you realise.  

Here’s everything you need to know about scholarships, as well as our advice on how you can find them:  


What is a scholarship? 

A scholarship is a type of financial aid that is offered to students, to help them further their education. 

There are a range of scholarships available, each with a different set of entry criteria that is specified by the university or third party that provides them. 

They’re awarded on the basis of things like academic excellence, sporting achievements, musical ability, personal circumstances, and more. 


Do I need to pay a scholarship back? 

No. A scholarship, like a grant or a bursary, will not need to be paid back. 


What’s the difference between a scholarship, a bursary, and a grant? 

The terms scholarship, bursary, and grant are often used interchangeably in the UK. 

Each of these are a form of financial aid that’s given to students, and they don’t need to be repaid. 

Traditionally, scholarships referred to financial aid given as a reward for academic success, but they are now given for multiple reasons – including to assist with personal circumstances or financial hardship. 


Who offers scholarships? 

Scholarships can be provided by universities, companies, professional organisations, charities, and the government. 


Types of scholarships

There are a number of reasons you could receive a scholarship, with the specific entry requirements dependent on the type of scholarship you apply for, and the institution that provides it. 

Here are some examples of the most common types of scholarships: 

Academic Excellence Scholarships. If you’re awarded high grades in your A Levels, you may be eligible for an academic excellence scholarship. 

Sporting Achievement Scholarships. Many universities seek students with exceptional sporting ability to represent their institution, no matter what subject they want to study.  

Musical Scholarships. Musical scholarships are available to students who have exceptional musical talent, whether it’s playing an instrument or singing. 

Personal Circumstances Scholarships. These are awarded on the basis of things like; where you live, where you go to school, what your parents do, whether you’ve been in care, and more.  

Financial Need Scholarships. Designed for those who may not be able to afford university, these scholarships assist people who are enduring financial hardships. 

Industry Scholarships. Some companies or professional organisations offer scholarships, work experience, and even permanent employment upon graduation, to encourage candidates to pursue work in high-demand industries. 

International Scholarships. Whether you’re a UK resident looking for a study abroad scholarship, or you want to come to the UK for your studies, there are a number of scholarships available to students all over the world.  


Popular scholarship programmes 


Industry specific scholarships 


University scholarships


Company scholarships 


Study abroad scholarships for UK students 


Other scholarships


Where to find scholarships 

If you know where you want to study, check your university’s website to find out the types of scholarships they offer. 

You can also find scholarships on sites like The Scholarship Hub and The Scholarship Portal, via company websites, or through Government Student Support.  


How to get a scholarship 

Each scholarship has different entry criteria, so it’s important to do your research to find out which one is right for you. 

For example, if you’re applying for a scholarship that’s offered by a university, you may need to have an offer to study with them in place first. You’ll also need to ensure you tick all the boxes when it comes to the formal requirements stipulated by the third party or university (e.g. you have the right grades). 

Once you’ve selected a scholarship that suits you, it’s key to get the ball rolling as soon as possible – as early scholarship applications are the best way to boost your chances of being considered. 

Here’s what you’ll need to do to get started:  

  • Complete a scholarship application on the website of the university or organisation that offers it 
  • Write a personal statement that explains why you’re a good fit (the specific contents of this may vary depending on the type of study you’re looking to fund, as well as where you’re applying for a scholarship)

Scholarship programmes are highly competitive, so spending time and effort on your application is crucial if you want to stand out from the crowd. 

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