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NHS student bursaries: how do I get one?

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In the UK the NHS provides bursaries to students on a variety of health professional training courses, here’s the ins and outs

Once you have been offered a place on a full or part-time NHS funded course that leads to professional registration as a nurse you will normally be eligible for one of these bursaries. The bursary consists of two parts. Your tuition fees are paid and then on top of that you receive a grant to cover living expenses.

If the course you are taking is based in England the type of grant you will receive depends on the type of course you are on:

  • If you are on an NHS funded degree courses you will receive an income assessed grant. This means that the amount you will receive depends on your income or that of your parents/ partner.
  • If you are on an NHS funded diploma course you will receive a non-income assessed grant.

If the course you are taking is based in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you’ll receive a non-income assessed grant.

Am I eligible?

NHS bursaries are not for registered first level nurses seeking a second level in nursing or health care professionals wanting post registration training. However, if you have previously had an NHS Bursary, for example while training to become a dietician or occupational therapist, and wish to switch professions to nursing you may be eligible.

Anyone applying for an NHS Bursary, regardless of their nationality, has to meet all the residency requirements on the first day of the first academic year of the course. You must:

  • have been a resident of the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for three years preceding that day;
  • be a resident of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland on that day;
  • have ‘settled status’ in the UK – as defined by the Immigration Act 1971 - meaning there must be no restrictions on your length of stay in the UK.

If you don’t meet these residence requirements we would recommend that you still look into your eligibility and consider applying, as there are a number special circumstance that could make you eligible.

If you are unsure about your eligibility for an NHS Bursary you should ask the university you are hoping to attend for advice. They should be able to help you.

How much could I get?

Last year (2010/11) the basic rate for the non-income assessed grant (for those on a diploma course) in England was £6’701 outside of London and £7’827 in London.

The basic rate for the income assessed grant (for those on a degree course) in England was £2’810 outside of London and £3’392 in London. However, the amount you will receive depends on your income or that of your parents/ partner and could be less than the basic amount.

If you are on a part-time course you will receive a proportion of the basic rate.

The NHS Business Service Authority website has a useful bursary calculator that allows people who will be studying in England to get an estimate of how much money they could receive.

Do I have to pay the money back?


Is additional financial help available from the NHS bursary scheme?

On top of the basic rates listed above, there are other allowances and awards available that you may be entitled to. These additional allowances and awards are available to both students receiving income and non-income assessed grants. You may be entitled to some extra money if:

  • you have children or adults who are completely or partly financially dependent on you;
  • your child/ children are looked after by a registered childcare provider while you are at university;
  • it costs you extra to attend your course because you have a physical, mental-health or learning disability.

Extra funds are also available if you go on maternity or adoption leave during your course, and to cover the cost of travelling to work placements during the course.

How do I apply?

When you are offered a place on an NHS funded course the course provider will inform the relevant national authority that you have been successful. The national authority or course provider will then contact you and tell you how to apply.

Are there any differences between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Most of the information above relates to bursaries for nursing courses in England. However, the bursary arrangements for courses in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all very similar. But, as the bursaries are administered by different organisations in each country, there may be some minor differences, for example in the amount you are entitled to and the type of additional financial help that is available.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Hello can anyone tell me how much I can earn per annum from a part time job before it affects my payments for the bursary ?
    is there an upper limit to earnings ?
    any help appreciated thanks!

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