How to find scholarships, grants and university bursaries

There are lots of university bursaries, scholarships and grants offered to students, but how do you find the ones that you might be eligible for? When looking for scholarships it can be confusing as there are so many different reasons you could be awarded some money, so here are some tips on how to make sure you don’t miss out on any opportunities, just because you didn’t know it was there.

Firstly, it can be confusing because the terms scholarship, grant and bursary often seem to be used quite interchangeably, but the basic premise 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:

  • University scholarships – These are offered as a reward for an achievement
  • University bursaries and grants – these are offered to relieve hardship or address disadvantage

Different organisations will have different motives for offering scholarships and therefore the students they are looking for can be very wide and varied. It is simply not true that scholarships are only given to the academically gifted and those in financial need.
Here are the different types of scholarships available:

Academic Excellence Scholarships

Many universities offer scholarships to students who achieve specified grades in their A levels to encourage higher achieving students to choose their university. They are not all asking for A*AA, some are offering money for ABB or less.

Musical Scholarships

If you are good at singing or playing a musical instrument and would be happy to perform during your stay at the university you could get a music scholarship. You do not have to be studying Music.

Personal Circumstances

Scholarships that are based on things that are specific to your personal circumstances, such as where you come from, if you are a care leaver, what your parents do or your religion. These might come from local authorities or religious organisations or charities.

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. These are more often called grants or bursaries.

Sporting achievement

If you have made outstanding achievements in sports, many universities will offer scholarships to attract the best talent. You will of course have to compete for the university in your sport.

Company scholarships

More and more companies are starting to offer scholarships and some include work experience as part of the offer. Industry Associations are also using scholarships to encourage new talent to join their profession. Girls in Engineering in particular are in demand.

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.

Other scholarships

Increasingly there are more scholarships being offered by companies, where all students have to do is submit an essay or video. Quite a few are coming from America, where scholarships are much more commonplace and these American companies are now opening up their scholarships to UK students. Others are from UK companies, who are starting to realise the opportunities.

Make a list

Now you can start to make a list of the reasons you might be eligible for a scholarship and begin your search. Try to think outside the box. You would be surprised by the number of strange scholarships available – for being a vegetarian, for having the surname Menzies, for being living in Westminster or if one of your parents is/was a chemist. Think about your career aspirations – are there any industry-related scholarships? What about your extracurricular activities?extra funding for university

Running a search
The Scholarships on the Funding Hub are organised in such a way that you can filter out different options.

Basis for Selection

The options here are based on the reasons for the award being given. If you are looking for scholarships that are based on where you come from, or for example if your parents were in the Army, select “The Basis for Selection” as Personal Circumstances.


If you know which universities you are interested in you can select those specific ones, but you should also run a search on “Open to any university” as this is where you will find those scholarships that are open to all students regardless of the university they go to.


You can select the specific subject you are interested in from the list or the higher-level subject category. For example, if you are looking for scholarships for Maths & Physics, you can select Physical Sciences and this will cover both. You should also run a search on “Open to any subject” to see what comes up that is open to all students regardless of their subject choice.

It is 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 which lists all of these and can be found in larger libraries. Alternatively, you can access a database of 3,500 charities & trusts which offer educational grants and university bursaries with our Funding Hub.

What are my chances of getting a scholarship?

There is certainly not a scholarship out there for everyone, but if you are eligible to apply, it is worth doing so. Organisations offering scholarships are not always inundated with applications and you could find the odds are stacked in your favour.

When should I apply?

The application deadlines for scholarships vary and you should check each one to find out when to apply. However, do be aware that some require you to apply before you know your A-level results and others are once you have your place confirmed at the University. There are also scholarships for which you should be in your second or third year at Uni, so keep an eye out while you are studying too. A cash boost every now and then will always be welcome to a student.

Find additional funding

Filter, find and apply for scholarships, grants or bursaries 
via the Funding Hub on Blackbullion.

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