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Student Finance

9 weird university bursaries, grants and scholarships

Ever wondered if you can get extra funding at university? It's not just reserved for those with the top grades. From the weird to the wonderful, you can get money for just about anything...

shocked man in front of money

Credit (foreground): Rachata Teyparsit – Shutterstock

Our latest National Student Money Survey found that the average student's Maintenance Loan is around £582 less than their monthly living costs.

But, our survey also revealed only 30% of you receive funding in the form of grants, bursaries and scholarships. Some might think this money is only for people with the highest grades or those from families with low household incomes.

The truth is, there are all kinds of surprising sources of funding out there. You'll often find you're eligible for extra money at uni for the weirdest of reasons. Have a scroll through to see if you're entitled to some unexpected cash.

These are just a handful of the more unusual pots of money on offer for students. Use our guide to extra funding sources to find loads more options.

Weird funding available for university students

Here are the best and most unusual bursaries, scholarships and grants for students:

  1. A grant for being a vegetarian

    fruit and vegetables

    Credit: Lilly Trott – Shutterstock

    In 'Lisa the Vegetarian', the Simpson family famously mocked Lisa's decision to stop eating meat. But what they didn't realise was that, in doing so, Lisa became eligible for the vegetarian grant, worth up to £500.

    The Vegetarian Charity's grant is for vegans and vegetarians aged 25 and under. It's intended to go towards educational courses and the relief of poverty. So, if you're a student (or looking to become one) and need extra funding, look into this grant.

    But, you can't just give up meat and get the money. This grant is for people who are already vegetarian or vegan. You'll need to have two references who will confirm you have a meat-free diet.

  2. A scholarship for being a talented esports player

    Some might think that sitting in your room playing computer games is a waste of time. But if you're good – and we mean seriously good – you could get a scholarship worth thousands of pounds.

    The University of Roehampton's scholarship offers £1,500/year to esports players who "demonstrate talent in the field". Up to 10 students can receive the scholarship each year.

    There are also further spaces available through their Women in Esports scholarship. These scholarships are also worth up to £1,500/year each. You can find out more on the University of Roehampton's website.

  3. A bursary for having the surname 'Graham'

    Sometimes you have to work hard to get a student bursary. Other times, you're lucky enough to just get given it. In the case of the Graham Trust Bursary Scheme, the latter definitely applies. And as far as weird bursaries go, this is a great one.

    The Graham Trust was established all the way back in 1759. It was set up to help young boys in the Glasgow area with the surname Graham. And it aimed to help them attend school, learn trades and become "useful members of society".

    Nowadays, the eligibility criteria have changed a bit. Most notably, funding is now available for males and females.

    As well as having the surname Graham (or having a parent with that surname), you'll also need to attend a higher or further education institution in the Glasgow area.

    If you meet the criteria, up to £500 could be yours.

  4. A bursary for having parents in the right line of work

    pharmacists and medicine

    Credit: Jacob Lund – Shutterstock

    It's no secret that having parents with the 'right' jobs can mean you're better off at uni than some other students. But, this doesn't just apply to students whose parents are doctors, lawyers and successful entrepreneurs.

    The Leverhulme Charity offers a bursary of up to £3,000/year for students who are either the spouse or child of a commercial traveller, pharmacist or grocer, and who are in "financial need".

    The charity is a bit vague on the definition of "financial need". So, you'll need to provide info about your financial situation and how the bursary would help you at university.

    They also have a few stipulations about what constitutes a commercial traveller, pharmacist or grocer. Head over to their website for full details.

  5. A scholarship for being able to sing

    Even if you're not destined for fame and fortune on the levels of Beyoncé, having the voice of an angel could still see you earning a handsome sum of money.

    Do you study (or plan to study) at the University of Exeter? If so, you could consider joining the Exeter Cathedral Choir. There are multiple scholarship positions available. And, if you're successful in applying, you'll receive around £3,500 in funding every year.

    But don't try to sign up, take your money and run. They're pretty hot on attendance, so this is best suited to students with a genuine passion for choral singing.

  6. A scholarship for being a big American football fan

    American football is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. One of the biggest drivers of this trend has been the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Committed to playing in London at least once a year, the Jags have given British fans the opportunity to watch their favourite stateside sport in person. And now, they've brought the famous 'football scholarship' across the pond, too, in the form of the Gridiron Grant.

    This initiative could potentially pay your tuition fees in full. To be eligible, you'll need to have either:

    • Been involved in American football in your community for an extended period of time
    • Played for a British American Football Association (BAFA) team
    • Or participated in the JagTag programme.

    The scholarship is paid to two UK students every year (one male and one female). Applications typically close in the spring. And for more details on the funding, head over to Jaguars' website.

  7. A bursary if your parents have served in the Royal Navy or Royal Marines

    navy ship at sea

    Credit: Alexander Turovsky – Shutterstock

    It's not unheard of for military personnel (or those who have previously served in the armed forces) to receive extra funding at university.

    But the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Bursary goes one step further. They provide funding for former serving members of the Royal Navy/Marines, as well as support for the children of current and former personnel.

    Through this bursary, you could be awarded up to £3,000/year for a maximum of four years. Note, that this is only for students at one of the University of Greenwich's campuses or partner colleges. And, your household income must be less than £40,000.

  8. A scholarship for studying in Welsh

    A number of colleges and universities offer scholarships to students who study their degree in Welsh.

    Note: that's not a degree in the subject 'Welsh' – just any degree that's taught and completed using the Welsh language.

    One example is the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol scholarship. There are multiple scholarships available each year, and it's worth up to £3,000 over three years.

  9. A scholarship for having gone to school in Pembrokeshire

    As another Wales-based scholarship, if you happened to go to secondary school in Pembrokeshire, you're in luck.

    The Port of Milford Haven Scholarship Programme offers £1,500 to a number of undergraduate students. It's for students who have "completed the majority of their secondary education in Pembrokeshire".

    You can be a student at any British university. And if you're selected as one of the four recipients, you'll get a summer placement at the Port of Milford Haven. This gives you the opportunity to experience loads of aspects of the port.

    While this scholarship took a break in 2022, it will open again for applications in the autumn of 2023.

Not from the UK? Check out our guide to scholarships and funding for international students.

See, there really is funding out there for pretty much anything.

But remember, this is by no means a comprehensive list of unusual grants, bursaries and scholarships. Even if you're not eligible for any of these, there could still be other ones that you are entitled to. So get looking!

Still struggling to find funding that you're eligible for? Our list of easy ways to make money may be the solution to your problems.

Tom Allingham

WRITTEN BY Tom Allingham

Tom joined Save the Student in 2017, initially heading up the editorial team before becoming Communications Director. He has appeared as a Student Finance expert on a range of TV and radio stations including the BBC, ITV and Sky, sharing his top tips for saving money and cutting student bills.
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