The Difference Between a Bursary and Scholarship

Published 06/02/2023
3 minutes Read

Bursaries and scholarships are both great ways to support students financially while they’re at university, however bursaries and scholarships are often confused as being the same thing.

Both scholarships and bursaries are given out to help students financially without the need for them to pay them back.

This blog will explore the difference between a scholarship and a bursary and how you can make the most of them.

What’s a scholarship? 

Scholarships usually come from independent third parties and universities to help students accelerate their education by offering financial aid. They often place focus on academic excellence. 

Eligibility may include: 

  • Academic achievements.
  • Personal circumstances, such as where you live or religious background.
  • Musical achievements.
  • Sporting achievements.

What’s a bursary? 

Bursaries are usually offered to those with financial needs to help cover education costs or one off payments to help with living costs.

Criteria students need to meet to receive a bursary:

  • They are a home or EU student.
  • Their income is less than £25,000.
  • They’re household income is between £25,001 – £42,611. 
  • They have a disability or long term health condition where Disability Living Allowance (DLA) isn’t available. 
  • They’re working or studying away from their university.
  • They have previously been in care.
  • They’re a carer for an adult or child.
  • They’re living in a hostel or student accommodation.

Despite this criteria, some bursaries may not be available to:

  • Part time students.
  • Postgraduate students.
  • NHS sponsored or funded students.
  • Students on placement years, years abroad or sandwich years.
  • Students who are paying reduced tuition fees.

Tips on applying for a scholarship or bursary

Applying for a scholarship or bursary can be very stressful, as you want to get everything right. But with these 7 tips, you’ll find applying for a scholarship or bursary easier than ever.

Consider your chances 

When applying for a scholarship or bursary it’s important to consider your chances. For example, if your parents earn a high income you’re unlikely to receive a bursary. However you may be eligible for scholarships relating to academic or musical achievements. 

You should also look at the value of the award and how many are available, to help you understand how likely you are to receive it. 

Check if you need to apply and whether there’s a deadline

Scholarships often require you to fill out an application to see whether you’re eligible and a good fit for the award. However bursaries tend to be automatically awarded as a result of personal circumstances or grade achievements.

If you need to fill out an application for an award, then you’re likely to need to have a place confirmed at a university. Due to this you should keep an eye on application deadlines to ensure you apply on time and give yourself the best possible chance.

Look at key dates and when you may be successful

When you’re applying to a scholarship you should look at the eligibility, how to apply and when you’re meant to hear if you’re successful. 

In terms of bursaries depending on income or personal circumstances, you’re likely to know whether you’re eligible for a bursary when you get your student finance assessment. 

Share your information with student finance

When you apply for your student loan you should tick the box that allows student finance to share your information with universities. This allows them to judge whether you’re eligible for any scholarships or bursaries. 

Look out for other opportunities

You can keep an eye out for any new scholarships or bursaries when you visit university open days or interviews. Clearing is also a great time to look out for scholarships or bursaries as some universities may make increases to fill application places. 

Take pride in your application

When completing an application it’s important that you take the time and effort to fill it out properly. You should check for any errors and ensure you answer all questions honestly and accurately. 

Furthermore, if you’re having difficulty answering or understanding any questions in the application, there’s no harm in contacting the university or provider for help.

Be realistic

When applying or thinking about applying for a bursary or grant you should consider whether you want to attend a university because you like it or because you like the award they offer. If it’s the latter, it isn’t wise to attend a university you’re not interested in and you should consider other options.

Types of scholarship or bursary

Scholarships are usually awarded for merit based and talent based achievements, whereas bursaries are usually awarded on a need basis.

Types of scholarships

  • Musical scholarships
  • Sport scholarships
  • Personal circumstance scholarships
  • Vocational scholarships (offered by businesses)

Types of bursary

  • Bursaries based on grade achievements 
  • Personal circumstance bursaries, such as those with difficult backgrounds or live in a low income household.


Scholarships tend to offer an automatic reduction or cover entire tuition fees and can also offer discounts alongside annual, term-wise or one-off payments for living costs. 

Whereas bursaries offer money to cover education costs or one off payments to help with living costs.

Despite scholarships and bursaries offering awards for different reasons they have a number of similar benefits, such as:

  • Reduced financial burden.
  • Ability to focus on education without worrying about income.
  • They show that you’re hard working and determined.
  • They highlight that you’re accomplished and make your CV stand out.

Millennium Point’s scholarship

Millennium Point Trust has partnered with Birmingham City University to offer a scholarship where one undergraduate degree is paid for each year. 

With over 20 courses included in the scholarship there’s lots to choose from. However the application deadline closes on the 17th March 2023. To apply for the scholarship, visit our website today.

How to apply

You’re eligible to apply to the scholarship if you’re 18 and planning on starting university by September 2023. You must be within the West Midlands Combined Authority and looking to start a degree included within the scholarship list.

Eligible degree courses include:


  • Automotive Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electronic Engineering
  • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

Built environment

  • Architectural Technology
  • Building Surveying
  • Construction Management
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Real Estate

Digital Technology

  • Digital Media Computing
  • Digital Film Production
  • Visual Effects
  • Music Technology
  • Sound Engineering and Production


  • Business Information Technology
  • Computer Games Technology
  • Computer Networks and Security
  • Computer Science
  • Digital Forensics
  • Computing and Information Technology
  • Cyber Security
  • Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence

The application has two stages with the second stage being an assessment day where you’ll participate in developmental workshops. 

For further advice on applying for a scholarship, read our helpful guide here.

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