Student Finance

9 weird university bursaries, grants and scholarships

Extra funding at university isn't just reserved for those with the top grades – from the weird to the wonderful, you can get money for just about anything!

weird bursaries grants scholarships student funding

Source (foreground): Know Your Meme

According to our National Student Money Survey, the average monthly Maintenance Loan amount falls £170 short of the monthly cost of living as a student.

However, our survey also revealed that just 31% of you receive funding in the form of grants, bursaries and scholarships. Lots of you won't even bother searching for extra funding, as many students believe that this money is only for students with the highest grades, or families with a low household income.

But the truth is that there's all kinds of weird and wonderful sources of funding out there, and often you'll be eligible thanks to nothing more than luck. Have a scroll through to see if you're entitled to an unexpected chunk of cash!

What weird funding is available for university students?

  1. A grant for being a vegetarian

    university scholarship for being vegetarian

    Credit: 20th Century Fox

    In ‘Lisa the Vegetarian', the Simpson family famously mocked Lisa's decision to stop eating meat by singing “you don't win friends with salad”. What they didn't realise, however, was that in doing so, Lisa became eligible for a grant of up to £500 from The Vegetarian Charity.

    The Vegetarian Charity's grant is on offer to all vegans and vegetarians aged 25 and under, and is intended to go towards educational courses and the relief of poverty. In other words, if you're a student (or looking to become one) and need some extra funding, this applies to you.

    However, don't go thinking that you can just give up meat to get the money. This grant is for people who are already vegetarian or vegan, and you'll need to have two references who can testify that you actually do have a meat-free diet.

  2. A scholarship for being a talented eSports player

    scholarship for esports university

    Credit: Living it Loving it Ltd – Flickr

    Your parents might have told you that sitting in your room playing computer games is a waste of time, but if you're good – and we mean seriously good – then you could get a scholarship worth thousands of pounds.

    The University of Roehampton's eSports scholarship offers £1,500/year to talented eSports players who can “demonstrate aptitude in the field”, but you'll need to keep your grades from suffering if you want to keep the scholarship each year.

  3. A bursary for having the surname ‘Graham'

    university bursary for surname graham

    Credit: Mike Mozart – Flickr

    Sometimes you have to work hard for extra funding at university – other times you're lucky enough to just get given it. In the case of the Graham Trust Bursary Scheme, the latter definitely applies.

    The Graham Trust was established all the way back in 1759 with the aim of helping young boys in the Glasgow area with the surname Graham to attend school and learn trades that would enable them to become “useful members of society”.

    Nowadays the eligibility criteria has changed a little bit – most notably, funding is now available for males and females. In fact, other than having the surname Graham, the only other requirement is that you attend a higher or further education institution in the Glasgow area. Do that, and up to £500 is yours to keep!

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

    weird university scholarships

    It's no secret that having parents with the ‘right' jobs can mean you're better off at uni than some other students. However, 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 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 some information on 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 loving triathlons

    triathlon scholarship uk university

    Credit: ABC

    Triathlons are – to put it lightly – pretty hard work. So, as a reward for all the effort you put in, you can now apply for a scholarship of up to £1,000 to put towards your “triathlon goals”.

    But that's not all – you'll also get a session with a member of the British Triathlon development team, a personalised Kit Brix Triathlon bag, access to a world class nutritionist and a whole heap more!

    Sadly there's only one scholarship available each year, and you'll need to convince the panel of judges that you'll be an exemplary ambassador for the sport if you want to win the funding. If you think you can hack it, head to the Yellow Jersey University Triathlon Scholarship website for more details.

  6. A scholarship for being able to sing

    singing scholarship uk university

    Credit: 20th Century Fox

    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.

    If you study (or plan to study) at the University of Exeter and reckon your vocal cords are up to the job, you might want to consider joining the Exeter Cathedral Choir. There are six to eight scholarship positions available, and if successful in applying, you'll receive approximately £3,000 in funding every year!

    But don't try to sign up, take your money and run. The scholarship is paid in monthly instalments, and they're pretty hot on attendance, meaning this opportunity is probably best suited to students with a genuine passion for choral singing.

  7. A bursary if your parent used to be in the Royal Navy or Royal Marines

    navy scholarship uk

    Credit: 20th Century Fox

    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 Greenwich Hospital Bursary goes one further, providing funding for former members or the Royal Navy/ Marines and their children.

    As the child of a former marine or naval officer, you could be awarded up to £3,000/year for a maximum of three years. Note, however, that it's only on offer to students in need of financial assistance, and only students at the Universities of Greenwich, Portsmouth and Newcastle are eligible.

  8. A scholarship for studying in Welsh

    scholarship for studying in welsh

    Credit: Eddie Lawrence – Flickr

    If you've been to Wales, know somebody from Wales, or know basically anything about Wales, you'll be aware that they're pretty keen to keep the Welsh language going. And for what it's worth, it seems to be working!

    As part of these efforts, 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 a normal degree that is taught and completed using the Welsh language).

    One of the most generous Welsh language scholarships we've come across is the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol scholarship at Cardiff University. There's 150 on offer, and it's worth £3,000 over three years – not bad if you're fluent enough in Welsh to use it every day!

  9. A scholarship for having gone to school in Pembrokeshire

    scholarship for living in pembrokeshire

    Sticking in Wales, 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 four undergraduate students, just for having “completed the majority of their secondary education in Pembrokeshire”. It really is as simple as that.

    You can be a student at any British university, and if you're selected as one of the four lucky recipients, you'll also get a summer placement at the Port of Milford Haven. This gives you the opportunity to experience all aspects of the port, including the marine, engineering and business units.

Not from the UK or the EU? 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 just as easily be an obscure pot of money that you are entitled to – so get looking!

Check out our guide to student bursary and scholarship sources to find out how to search for more funding.

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