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Are there any university funding alternatives besides loans in the UK?

I’m sure my dream career would be exactly like Tolkien’s. I don’t want to be deeply in debt before 20 though. In the US people talk of government-funded grant money for college; in the UK “university funding” appears to mean loans. Is a website about Uni grants legitimate, or some cruel joke? If grants, scholarships, bursaries etc. are real, why do people rely on loans as funding for courses? Should I just take a restaurant job?

Brandon Scott

in Student Loans

1 answer

1 answer

Jodi Brooks on July 30, 2018

Yes, though student loans are still the primary means of funding university studies in the UK (supplemented by parents’ savings accounts), alternatives are available. A recent study ( ) found that many British students simply don’t bother to find out that they qualify for scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, grants, or even waivers.

University grants are legitimate, though harder to get in the UK than in the US. does not, as of this afternoon, look like a scam site. It doesn’t promise much money or demand access to your bank account. It directs you to the “Student Support Services” at your college or university. While fraudulent websites come and go, school staff can direct you to valid sources of grant funding for the courses you need.

In addition to neglecting grants, scholarships, and bursaries, British students may also be paying for more courses than they need. Often part of the requirements for a degree can be met by online courses. Both basic and “fun” elective courses from the world’s best-reviewed universities are open to the public and may be transferred into a conventional curriculum for a tenth of the conventional price. Certification that you took a tech course from MIT may cost less than taking the course from Liberty University; merely taking the online course is often free.

One reason why students don’t apply for funding may be the long lists of criteria for relatively small awards. Some benefits are available only to women, students of some obscure specialty, or club members’ sons. Researching and requesting grants has become a job description (“grant writing”).

Taking a restaurant job, if you’ve been offered one, no longer locks the door against a “professional” career. It’s often possible to do a job and go to college at the same time. (Many Americans do it; grant money for colleges in the US has not kept pace with rising tuition costs.) Creative writers can study language, literature, and social issues on their own, like the Mitford sisters, or simply write successful novels, like JK Rowling. Job training, especially as related to time management and business administration, is a valuable experience for writers too. On the other hand, going to university offers social life with networking potential and serious fun. Tolkien is remembered for writing, but he enjoyed studying and teaching too.


Karen Wright2 years ago

As an American, I can confirm that inflated tuition costs are totally subverting Claiborne Pell’s good intentions. (Senator Pell set up the Pell Grant system that ensures grant money for college to most US students.) Some seem to blame the whole idea of government funding for public colleges and universities. They could be more specific. Grants have not caused inflation and might have been sustainable. The idea that these schools could expect to keep raising tuition every year was what caused tuition inflation beyond any hope of sustainability. When I went to college, Pell Grants covered public school tuition, and the goal at more expensive private schools was to work enough hours to pay the balance. Now even public school students must add cosigned private loans to publicly funded, low-interest federal student loans without cosigners. College administrators feel entitled to financial “growth.” Blame the greed, not the grants.


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