Scholarships, grants, bursaries are financial awards that are designed to help to support students financially through their studies.They can be awarded for many different reasons and this is often dependent on the type of organisation that is awarding the scholarships. Different organisations will have different motives for offering scholarships.   

The terms scholarship, grant and bursary often seem to be used quite interchangeably and it can be quite confusing, but the basic principle of each is the same. This is money that is awarded to you which you do not have to pay back.  

As a general rule, you could say

  • Scholarships: money usually given for something you have achieved whether this is academic or extra curricular.
  • Grants: a grant can be given for achievement, personal circumstance or financial need
  • Bursaries: these are usually given for financial need.

However there is no hard and fast rule, and you will see these terms used to apply to many different funding opportunities.

There is a misconception that scholarships are only for the very academically gifted, and grants and bursaries are for those in financial need and anyone in between will not be eligible, but this is not true. There are a whole lot of other funding opportunities designed to widen access to universities. Here are some examples of scholarships available:

  1. Academic Excellence Scholarships: many universities are starting to offer scholarships to students who achieve specified grades in their A’levels to encourage the higher achieving students to choose their university. They are not all asking for A*AA, some are offering money for ABB or less.
  2. Musical Scholarships: if you have musical talent and would be happy to perform during your stay at the university there are scholarships offering for a wide range of choral and instrumental students. Exeter Cathedral Scholarship Programme offers up to £3,000 a year to sing in the Cathedral.
  3. Personal Circumstances: Scholarships that are based on things that are specific to your personal circumstances, such as where you live, where you go to school, what your parents do, if you have been in care or even if you are a vegetarian!
  4. Financial Need: These are the more traditional type of scholarships, which award money to individuals who are in financial need, and might not be able to go to university without the money. You will need to prove your financial need.
  5. Sporting achievement. It does not matter what you want to study, if you have made outstanding achievements in sport, many universities will offer scholarships to attract the best talent. You will of course have to represent the university at sporting events while 
  6. Company scholarships:  More and more companies such as BP, Lloyds, and HSBC are starting to offer scholarships and some include work experience as part of the offer. 
  7. Your 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.

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