Scholarships in the United Kingdom

With the decline in manufacturing and heavy industry in the United Kingdom over recent decades, governments have looked for alternative ways to encourage growth. One of these alternatives is to capitalise on the long-established higher education system in order to build and foster a knowledge economy. As a result, foreign students are encouraged to come to UK colleges and universities and there are many scholarships in place to help them.
The UK provides students with several scholarships
The UK provides students with several scholarships


General situation in terms of scholarships

There are many scholarship programmes that students can apply for to help with their studies in the UK, but there is also a lot of competition for these scholarships. This is not surprising given the quality of the education system, the internationally renowned institutions and the high standard of living. The advice for all scholarships therefore is to apply early.

Type of scholarships and granting institution

Almost all universities and colleges in the UK have bursaries and grants available. This makes up the bulk of scholarships awarded in the UK. Many scholarships also come from the Erasmus scholarship scheme which supports EU students. In addition a lot of the scholarships that are available are managed or awarded by the British Council. It is a charity founded by the UK government that promotes international education, among other things. It has scholarships available for students from the UK and for foreign students. It also has funding schemes targeted at students from particular countries. Some of the schemes are available on a wide range of courses while others are specific.

A separate scholarship scheme called Chevening is administered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is aimed at students who demonstrate both high academic abilities and leadership potential. Grants are also available from The Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific institution. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) also provides funding for students and there is help available through the governments of the four countries that make up the UK - England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Finally, the Higher Education Funding Council for England operates the National Scholarship Programme for students who come from poorer backgrounds.

Availability and conditions for getting a scholarship

The eligibility criteria varies from scholarship to scholarship.Many are means tested so are dependent on the financial circumstances of the student’s family. This is often in addition to other conditions. Generally, the conditions fall into a number of broad categories. This includes scholarships for those with outstanding academic or musical abilities. Scholarships are also available for those who excel in sport. Some are designed solely to help students in financial need while others are aimed at those with particular personal circumstances, hobbies or interests. Nationality is also a factor in many scholarships. Some are only available to UK residents while others are open to EU nationals and other foreign students. Some, like the Chevening scholarships, are only available for foreign students.

Local scholarships for foreign students

The UK is one of the most world’s most popular destinations for foreign students. The financial support that is available through scholarships and grants is a factor in this popularity. For EU students there is the Erasmus scholarship scheme as well as the National Scholarship Programme and schemes by the British Council. Students from outside the EU can also apply to many of the programmes run by the British Council as well the Chevening scholarship. The Student Support scheme operated by the UKCISA is open to students from any country. Funding is available for undergraduate courses, master's degrees, postgraduate courses, doctoral studies, and for research placements.

Typical scholarships in the United Kingdom

There are a broad range of scholarships and grants available in the UK and all of them are different. In general, those awarded by universities and colleges are for between £1,000 and £3,000. Similar amounts are available through the schemes run by the National Scholarship Programme and the UKCISA.