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Unlocking scholarships in the UK

Updated: Jun 25, 2022


It’s no secret that studying in the UK is expensive. When compared with other countries around the world, the UK ranks highly in terms of the cost of tuition - especially for international students, who can expect to pay between two and four times as much as UK residents for tuition. The cost of living in some cities in the UK (London in particular) only compounds this.

Needless to say, paying for education at a UK university will leave a dent in your finances.

Scholarships are a great way of helping to ease the financial burden of studying in the UK, as they are not repayable and can help towards both tuition and the cost of living when studying.

For obvious reasons, UK scholarships are very competitive, and students need to do a lot to stand out when applying for them in order to be in with a chance of success.

In this article, we will explore UK scholarships in detail to help international students to find ways of subsidising the cost of their studies, as well as giving them the best chance of securing a UK scholarship.


UK Scholarships: Where to start

Getting into a UK university can be difficult enough, and worrying about how you will finance your studies can be stressful - after all, preparing to study abroad can be challenging enough! As with most things: take one step at a time.

As a starting point for UK scholarships, it is worth spending some time researching the options that are available to you. To help you do this, we have compiled some resources to help explain the range of UK scholarships on offer:


1. UK Government Scholarships

Chevening Scholarship

The UK government offers a programme of scholarships to international students who meet the Chevening eligibility criteria. The scholarships often cover tuition fees and provide a living allowance, too. This can be used for any university in the UK.


Commonwealth Master’s Scholarship

Those from a ‘commonwealth’ country who are seeking to study for a Master’s degree in the UK can apply for a Commonwealth Master’s Scholarship. This covers all tuition fees, provides a living allowance, and also covers costs such as airfare and initial costs upon arrival. You can find out more and apply here.


2.Institution-specific scholarships

Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Another scholarship designed for those pursuing a Master’s degree, the Gates Scholarship covers all associated costs for a postgraduate degree at the University of Cambridge. Learn more about the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.


Rhodes Scholarship at University of Oxford

The Rhodes scholarship is one of the oldest international scholarships, and was founded in 1902. It awards exceptional students from countries that qualify. Learn more about the Rhodes Scholarship.


Denys Holland Scholarship at University College London

This scholarship is available to Undergraduate students from any country if they would otherwise be unable to fund their studies at UCL. It is awarded to students who show a desire to immerse themselves in university life, both in- and outside of the classroom. The scholarship gives 9,000GBP per year, which can be spent on tuition or maintenance costs. Apply for the Denys Holland Scholarship now.


Bristol University International Office Scholarships

The University of Bristol awards five scholarships per year to international undergraduate students to help cover the costs of studying. These scholarships are worth 8,500GBP. Apply for a Bristol University International Office Scholarship now.


Westminster Full International Scholarship

The University of Westminster offers scholarships to students from any developing country who wish to study a full-time undergraduate course. This includes fee waivers, maintenance costs, and flights to-and-from London. Apply for the Westminster Full International Scholarship now.


For details of more UK scholarships available, visit the Scholars4Dev website.


Ways to support a UK scholarship application

At this point, you might be thinking ‘how do I get a scholarship to study abroad?’ Applying for a UK scholarship usually involves completing an application form and writing a supporting statement or essay, followed by an interview.

Awarding committees generally assess these applications, and are looking for certain characteristics. These are the things that differentiate a particular student from other applicants.


Here are five of the key qualities you should exhibit in your UK scholarship application:

1. Passion

Simply having good grades won’t be enough to earn a UK scholarship. Awarding bodies are looking for genuine passion in the students’ chosen subject, as demonstrated by ambition and commitment to their studies. Completing super-curricular courses are a great way to do this. Also, try and be genuine when writing about your reasons for applying - both to study your subject and for the scholarship.


2. Preparedness

Committees will be looking for students who have invested the time to research the specific scholarship that they offer. You should be prepared to talk about some of the history of the scholarship, the values of the programme, and why you have applied specifically to them - beyond purely financial reasons.


3. Self-awareness

To be successful in your scholarship application, you will need to demonstrate awareness of your strengths, but also your weaknesses. Being able to communicate confidently about the areas in which you need to develop will help set you apart from other applicants, and will show that you are committed to both your personal and academic development.


4. Leadership

Scholarship committees are looking for individuals who possess leadership ability. Leaders are not only confident, but are able to communicate effectively, and think in macro as well as micro ways. Completing a short course in public speaking could be a good idea to support this.


5. Focus

To be successful in applying for a UK scholarship you should be able to demonstrate focus. Scholarship committees are looking for students who are committed to long- and short-term goals, and who aren’t easily distracted. In your application you should be concise and impactful, and should avoid rambling.


Scholarships are a great way to help support your studies in the UK, and we hope that you have found this article helpful in giving a background on UK scholarships, the steps to follow, and the resources you should make use of in researching and applying for one.

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