Why accessing financial and practical support is important

As we have seen, universities will have a lot of requirements from you. However, it is important to remember that universities really want to recruit students like you and to make sure that you are supported, whatever your background. This is particularly true when it comes to financial and practical support, where universities put significant resources in place to assist you.

You should be aware that you may be entitled to or eligible for financial and practical support at university. To give some examples:

  • if you are from a group that is typically under-represented at university, there may be outreach programmes that you can apply for as a school student;
  • depending on your household income, you may be entitled to additional student loan support or eligible for bursaries;
  • if you have certain needs (e.g. as a carer, care leaver, or someone with a disability) then universities may provide additional practical support.

This might be something that you have already considered, but it is worth checking in detail. To help you find out more, we have pulled together an overview on university finances, bursaries and widening participation schemes.

 

Finance

When it comes to student finances, there are a lot of scare-stories out there. The media loves a headline-worthy story about rising tuition fees or the ‘eye-watering’ cost of a degree.

While it is true that university does come with a significant cost to the individual, it is important to remember some key points:

  • you are entitled to a student loan
  • you may also be eligible for additional loan support and/or grants
  • you will only have to pay living costs up front
  • you will only begin to pay back your loans once you earn over £25,725 per year.

Student finance can be quite detailed, so we have included some links below to help you begin understanding what costs you might incur and what support might be available to you.

Quick Start Finance Guide

Which? The Complete Student Finance Guide

Gov.uk Student Finance Calculator

The Complete University Guide - Managing Your Money

 

Bursaries and scholarships

Another important way in which universities remove potential barriers for students is through bursaries and scholarships, which are made as direct payments that help students to fund their university studies.

It is estimated that there are £150m per year available in scholarships, with more still for bursaries. However, Which? University has surveyed students and found that 60% do not bother to apply for bursaries or scholarships at all. To encourage students to apply for these funding opportunities, Which? University has helpfully provided the following guide for bursaries and scholarships.

Which? University Guide to Bursaries and Scholarships

 

Widening participation

As well as financial support through bursaries and scholarships, universities also make a huge effort to widen participation, especially for those from typically under-represented backgrounds.

Most universities run programmes in partnership with local schools to reach out to potential future students. In addition, universities typically deliver their own programmes to support target students. These programmes often combine open days, taster courses and summer schools, and some may also lead to a lower grade offer from the university.

Each university will have slightly different criteria, but if you meet any of the following then you are likely to be eligible for additional support through university widening participation teams.

  • BAME background
  • Neither parent attended university
  • Carer, in care or care leaver
  • Having a disability of any kind
  • Having been in receipt of free school meals

Each university has its own dedicated team to oversee its widening participation activities, so if you are interested in a particular university, make sure you to look them up. There are too many widening participation teams to show them all here, but we have chosen a small selection that have been nominated for Guardian University Awards and Times Higher Education Awards over the past two years.

King's College London

Kingston University

Nottingham Trent University

Open University

Swansea University

University of East London

University of Sunderland