For any students looking to work in the NHS as a healthcare provider, you might be eligible for funding from the NHS in the form of the NHS bursary. This could make a huge difference to your financial situation and doesn’t need to be repaid. To help you out, we’ve created a guide with everything you need to know, including how to get the NHS student bursary.

What is the NHS bursary?

The NHS bursary is one of the most common forms of funding for healthcare students in the UK. Whilst it isn’t as common as it used to be, eligible students could receive a hefty amount of financial support whilst at university.

The main bursary run by the NHS is available to medical and dental students. Full-time students on these courses can receive either a means-tested bursary, extra funding, contribution to tuition fees, a means-tested bursary or a £1,000 grant.

Other NHS student bursaries are also available, such as those for social work students or the learning support fund.

Who is eligible for the NHS bursary? 

Students must fit a certain group of criteria in order to receive the NHS bursary. The criteria ensure that the NHS is not giving funding to people who are not likely to finish their course or change their career paths.

In order to be eligible, you must be in the ‘later stages’ of your medical or dental course. This means in the last 2 or 3 years of your course. For 3-year courses, funding is only available in the 2nd and 3rd years. You also must have been living in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for 3 years.

If you started an undergrad dental or medical degree as your second degree and joined a year into the course, you would then be eligible for the funding.

How much will I get from the NHS bursary? 

The NHS bursary for students is paid in 12 instalments across the year. Those receiving the maximum bursary could receive up to £4,191 across these instalments. Students living in London on their own could receive the 1k grant on top of up to £3,191. Students living alone but not in London could receive the grant and an additional £2,643, and those living with their parents could receive the grant plus up to £2,007.

If you get tuition fee contributions, the amount the NHS will pay varies. For undergraduate courses that last 5 or 6 years, you could receive up to £9,250. Graduate entry courses of 3 to 4 are eligible for a contribution of up to £3,715, and students in the final year of a course that must be completed in 15 weeks could get up to £4,625 in tuition fee contributions.

How to get the NHS bursary

To apply for the NHS student bursary, you will need to complete an application on the Bursary Online Support System. This is about a 30-minute task, and you are able to save it and return to it later if you can’t fill it in all at once. You will also need to send supporting evidence by post. This will need to include:

  • 2 documents to confirm your identity, one of which must include a photograph. For example, a passport and birth certificate.

When can you apply for the NHS bursary? 

If you’re looking to receive funding from the very beginning of the academic year, you need to aim to apply for the NHS student bursary by the end of May. You can continue to apply within 9 months from the beginning of your course but may not receive the funding from the very beginning of your course.

Check out the application page here.

What other student bursaries are available?

Learning Support Fund

If you are on a dental therapy, dental hygiene, dietetics, midwifery, nursing, occupational therapy, orthoptics, orthotics, paramedics, physiotherapy, podiatry, chiropody, radiography or speech and language therapy degree, you are eligible for the LSF. You will also need to be at a university in England and be eligible for student finance.

With the LSF, you could receive a training grant of £5,000 per academic year, as well as:

  • Exceptional Support Fund: a financial hardship grant of £3,000 per academic year
  • Parental Support: anyone with at least one dependent under 15 or under 17 with special educational needs can get up to £2,000 per academic year
  • Specialist subject payments: those studying a specialist subject can receive up to £1,000 per year

Students may also be eligible for Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses, which reimburses them for travel.

Unlike the NHS bursary, this is paid in three instalments across the academic year, and for part-time students, the LSF may be available on a pro-rata basis.

Check out the application page here.

NHS Social Work Bursary

For students studying social work, you can get specific NHS funding that helps with study and living costs. This doesn’t need to be paid back and is there to support you. However, there is a maximum number of people the government can allocate this bursary to. Universities are given a number of NHS bursaries for social work students, and it is then up to them to decide who will receive funding.

Students must be on a course approved by Social Work England, the Scottish Social Services Council, Social Care Wales or Northern Ireland Social Care Council. Students must not be getting paid time off, payment of tuition fees or payment for placement from an employer.

Students are not eligible if they are receiving any funding from the Department for Education or funding from a public body (such as a government benefit agency or bursary from your university).

Undergraduates receiving the NHS social work bursary are able to receive £5,262 in London and £4,862 outside of the capital. Postgraduate students can receive a non-income assessed bursary of £3,762.50 in London or £3,362.50 outside, an income assessed bursary or up to $4,201 in London or up to £3,271 outside and a tuition fee contribution of up to £4,052.

If you aren’t chosen by your university for the NHS social work bursary but have a placement to which you have to travel to, you may be eligible for the Placement Travel Allowance, which is a fixed grant of £862.50 per academic year.

Check out the application page here.

How does the NHS student bursary change in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? 

Due to the nature of the UK as 4 separate countries, the rules and bursaries do differ slightly depending on where in the UK you live.

NHS Bursary Scotland

In Scotland, students’ tuition fees are covered by the Student Awards Agency Scotland. However, on top of this, some healthcare students can receive extra funding.

If you’re studying medicine or dentistry as a Scottish home student, you can apply for loans and bursaries to help with your living costs. If you’re studying medicine at St Andrews, your degree will be structured differently, and so the funding changes.

The medical degree at St Andrews allows you to graduate after 3 years, before then going to a partner medical school to get your doctor training. For the 3 years at St Andrews, the SAAS will cover your tuition fees. In the fourth year, the SAAS will cover your fees if you are at a Scottish medical school. Otherwise, you will need to apply for a tuition fee loan of up to £9,250. Then, for your fifth and sixth years, you can reapply to SAAS.

Some dental students in Scotland can apply for a bursary of up to £4k a year. This Dental Student Support Grant (DSSG) is available to students at the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dundee if their household income is below £34,000. Generally, the condition is that the graduate must then agree to work in NHS dentistry in Scotland. In 2021/2022, however, this is not the case.

Paramedics, nurses and midwives can apply for the Paramedic, Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary through SAAS. This is not means-tested, and you can expect to receive £10,000 in years 1, 2 and 3, and then £7,500 in the final year of the course.

NHS Student Bursary Wales 

Students studying medicine or dentistry in Wales may be eligible for the NHS Wales Bursary. This does not require a work commitment and is very similar to the NHS bursary on offer to English students. You will need to be on a UG medical or dental degree and in at least your 5th year.

Nursing, midwifery and AHP students must commit to working for NHS Wales for at least 2 years after graduating in order to receive the NHS bursary. This bursary includes:

  • Your tuition fees paid in full
  • £1,000 grant
  • A means-tested bursary of up to £2,643 if you live alone, or £2,207 if you live at home
  • A reduced maintenance loan
  • Additional allowances based on circumstance

Social work students may also be able to receive extra funding. However, there are a limited number of these bursaries available. To be eligible, you must live in Wales, study an approved course, and not receive any other financial support. You must be nominated by your institution for this student bursary.

NHS Bursary Northern Ireland 

If you usually reside in NI, you can receive some funding during your degree.

If you’re a student on a medical or dental course in the UK, you could be eligible for a means-tested NHS bursary from the 4th year of your course. This offers to cover your tuition fees, a bursary for living costs and a non-means-tested loan for living costs.

If you are studying nursing or midwifery, you can get your tuition fees covered and an NHS bursary for living costs, but you would not be able to also receive the Student Finance maintenance loan alongside this.

Students on Allied Health Professional courses (diagnostic radiography, occupational therapy etc.) may be able to get their tuition fees paid in full, a means-tested bursary for living costs and a loan for living costs.

Social work students in NI can get a bursary from the Social Services Inspectorate, which works alongside their student finance.