Scholarship guidance for UK students

Here, we’ll cover what scholarships and bursaries are, how to find out what you might be eligible for, and essential tips for successful scholarship applications.

There may be a limit to how much you can save in your spending, but there’s no limit to how much money you can get access to. In fact, in the UK, there are 20 million pounds worth of scholarships available. Applying for additional funding in the form of scholarships, bursaries and grants is a great way to increase your money pot.

Scholarships vs bursaries and grants

Scholarships and bursaries are financial awards granted to students based on academic achievements, talent, need, or a combination of these factors. Unlike loans, scholarships don't require repayment, making them an invaluable resource for students who may need extra financial assistance.

Bursaries, on the other hand, are typically need-based awards that aim to support students facing financial hardship. They may cover tuition fees, living expenses, or specific educational costs. Here's a quick breakdown: 

  • Scholarships: usually awarded for something you’ve achieved, whether academic or extracurricular. For example: a scholarship for achieving the highest mark in first year, or a sports scholarship
  • Grants: usually awarded based on personal circumstances or financial need. For example: you’re from an underprivileged background or have a disability. In particular cases, they can also be given for achievement
  • Bursaries: always awarded based on financial need. For example: those from low-income families or people who have refugee status. Likely to be means-tested (based on your household income)

Where to look for scholarships and bursaries

How to apply for scholarships and bursaries

The application process for scholarships and bursaries will vary. Here are some general tips for how to apply:
  1. Gather documentation

    Collect all necessary documents, such as academic transcripts, reference letters, personal statements, and evidence of financial need (if applicable). Each will be different, so make sure you know exactly what they are expecting you to provide.
  2. Keep track of deadlines

    Pay close attention to application deadlines as missing them could result in your application being rejected. Some scholarships have early deadlines, so start preparing in advance.
  3. Tailor each application

    Tailor your applications to each scholarship you apply for. Highlight your achievements, talents, and experiences that align with the scholarship's criteria.
  4. Get help

    Don't hesitate to seek advice from teachers, mentors, or uni staff when preparing your application. It always helps to have someone proofread your application.

Tips for successful scholarship applications

Here are a few tips for a successful application: 

  1. Highlight your unique qualities: Scholarships often seek candidates who stand out from the crowd. Showcase your unique talents, achievements, and show your personality in your application.
  2. Be personal: Don’t just write what you think the scholarship committee will want to hear; write what is true to your experience. Avoid exaggeration or dishonesty, as scholarship committees can easily detect insincerity.
  3. Be wary of AI: AI can be a helpful tool for making a first draft, but you shouldn’t use it to write your entire application (this also applies to writing your uni personal statement). Check out Blackbullion's guide on using AI for writing scholarship applications. 
  4. Pay attention to detail: Make sure you have completed all required sections of the application and included all necessary documents. Here, free platforms like Grammarly can be helpful for catching typos and error, but also get a second pair of eyes to review your application before submitting. 
  5. Apply for multiple scholarships: Don't limit yourself to applying for just one scholarship. The more you apply for, the higher your chances. That being said, quantity is always better than quality. Apply for multiple scholarships, but make sure you tailor each.