Bursaries and studentships

Scholarships and bursaries explained

Universities themselves are also a good source of funding, with their own studentships / scholarships and award schemes and smaller prize awards towards books and the like. These have a variety of criteria, from the best history essay winning a book award to an international scholarship for an economics student from Indonesia. University departments themselves will be clued up to what’s available, so it’s worth contacting those on your list, or checking out their websites.

It might be that there is some paid work available on campus; in your department (although teaching or marking tasks may be more the remit of those studying for PhDs), or in the library or student union.

For those finding themselves in real financial trouble, perhaps brought on by a change in circumstances (moving next to the pub doesn’t count), the government has an Access to Learning fund. Applications to the fund are made via the university’s student services.

Government funding bodies

Thinking of teaching or social work? There may well be extra funding available for you.


While the teaching shortage that prompted the era of the ‘golden hello’ for initial teacher training (ITT) is now over, there are still bursaries available for some subjects. These are specialities that the government thinks are in particular demand and recruitment is ‘challenging’.

If you've a flare for chemistry, maths, or physics you may be eligible for a tax-free bursary of up to £30,000. An eye for computer science or music and that could be a £9,000 bursary.

At the moment, preference is given to candidates with the best academic qualifications when drawing up shortlists of applicants. The largest bursaries go to those with first class degrees. Read more about training bursaries for PGCE, SCITT and School Direct training.

Social work

A bursary for social work was introduced by the Department of Health to encourage people to study social work. The postgraduate bursary has assessed (for maintenance grants and allowances for dependents) and non-assessed elements (for grants, tuition fees and placement travel fees).

To find out more about the bursary for postgraduates, please download the booklet 'Social Work Bursary'

Other medical professions

NHS student bursaries are available for a number of other medical courses as well. Feet people, teeth people and speech people are just a few of those eligible for financial support if accepted for an NHS funded place on a course leading to professional registration.

To find out more about NHS backed student bursaries, please visit www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk


The general opinion is that these only fund teaching now, but there are websites still recommend contacting them – so you might like to contact your local education authority to check its policies on funding.


The most common award made by the research councils (a group of seven government funded agencies which research different areas) for MA or MSc students is the ‘advanced course studentship’.

The councils make awards of money to departments or universities. Students then make applications for these awards to the university or department running the course, rather than the research council directly (there are a couple of arts and humanities exceptions).