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Funding for Scottish Students

Scottish students studying at undergraduate level at UWS may be entitled to various funds and support towards tuition fees and living costs.

As PGDE students are funded through the undergraduate funding system, further information can be found in the section below. This includes information on the new STEM Teacher Education Bursaries.

Student Awards Agency Scotland

Funding for students from Scotland is administered by an agency of the Scottish Government known as SAAS (Student Awards Agency Scotland). SAAS operate an online application process and their website has a lot of really useful information about how they work out your entitlement and how you apply for it. Applications open in April and we recommend applying early to ensure your funding is ready for you starting your course.

Student funding packages are made up of support for tuition fees and support for living costs in the form of a bursary and/or a student loan. You must apply to SAAS every year for funding, even if you just want tuition fee support. Support for living costs is income assessed, which means your household income is used to work out what you get.

Tuition Fees

While it is true that Scottish students don't pay tuition fees, it's not true that tuition is free. It currently costs £1,820 per year for Scottish students to study a degree in Scotland. The cost of tuition for eligible Scottish students is met by SAAS each year but you can usually only get this funding once at each level of study, with an extra year of funding available in case of emergencies. This support is not income assessed.


There are 2 types of bursary – Young Student Bursary and Independent Student Bursary. The one you can apply for depends on your age and circumstances. Generally, students under 25 claim the Young Student Bursary and are income assessed using their parents’ income. Those over 25, married or with children, will claim the Independent Student Bursary and are income assessed using their own income and that of a spouse or partner.

This is the part of your student package that you don’t have to repay. You can usually only get this funding once at each level of study, with an extra year of funding available in case of emergencies. There are some additional grants available to certain students.

Find out more on the SAAS website

Student Loan

Student loans are available on top of bursaries and are the largest element of your student support package. You do not have to take out the student loan, or can elect to take out only a proportion of what you are offered. The student loan is repayable and does accrue interest but it is much cheaper than other types of finance such as bank loans, overdrafts or credit cards.

Find out more about how the Student Loan works

Care Experienced Bursary

If you have been looked after by a Local Authority in the UK, and will be under 26 when you start your course, you may be eligible to receive the Care Experienced Students Bursary instead of the support detailed above. The Care Experienced Students Bursary is worth £8,100 and is not income assessed, so the level of your household income does not impact this.

If you are eligible for the Care Experienced Students Bursary, you cannot also claim a student loan.

Find out more on the SAAS website

Professional Graduate Diploma Education (PGDE)

Despite it being a postgraduate level course, PGDE students continue to be funded through the undergraduate funding system. If you have received SAAS funding previously to undertake an undergraduate course, you will generally still be able to receive funding to undertake the PGDE. However, if you have already received funding to undertake a postgraduate course, you may not be eligible for further funds. If you are unsure about your eligibility for funding as a result of previous study, please contact Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) directly for clarity.

You can find out more about the funding you may be entitled to, and how to apply, by reading the section above titled Student Awards Agency Scotland.

STEM Teacher Education Bursaries for Career Changers

The STEM Initial Teacher Education Bursary is a new incentive of up to £20,000 to ease the transition into Initial Teacher Education. Applications are open to career changers who are embarking on a PGDE (Secondary) that leads to the award of registered teacher status in the hardest to fill STEM subjects.

For courses starting in August 2019, the eligible subjects are Chemistry, Computing Science, Home Economics, Maths, Physics and Technical Education.

Full eligibility criteria, particularly in relation to what is meant by ‘career changers’, and information on the application process, can be found online at the STEM Bursary webpages.

The bursary is over and above any normal student support that you might be eligible for from SAAS, including Tuition Fee support, and living cost support in the form of bursaries and student loans. This means you may apply to SAAS for the normal package of support and also receive the STEM Bursary. However, as the majority of the SAAS package is in the form of a repayable student loan, we would encourage you to carefully consider this before taking out this student loan.

Repeating a period of study

As you will understand from reading the information above, SAAS normally only provide support once at each level of study, with an extra year of funding available in case of emergencies. While you can apply for the Student Loan element of your support package as often as you need it, you may need to think about your entitlement to Tuition Fee and Bursary support if you find yourself in this position.


If you are making the transition from an HNC or HND at college, the level at which you enter the university may have an impact on your funding. In basic terms, an HNC is equivalent to Year 1 of a degree programme while an HND is equivalent to Year 2.

While SAAS normally wouldn’t fund study at the same level twice, i.e. an HNC and then Year 1 of a degree, there is an Articulation Rule for students making this transition. This would allow you to receive the full package of student support, as long as you hadn’t progressed beyond this level, or used this extra funding previously. 


If things haven’t gone to plan, you may be able to claim an additional year of funding. You may have started a course previously and found it wasn't for you, or may have not completed a year of study that you now need to come and repeat. Whatever the reason, there is a +1 rule that would allow you to receive the full package of student support, as long as you hadn’t progressed beyond this level, or used this extra funding previously. 

It’s really important not to rely on this funding without doing your research, so please contact SAAS directly if you need any help identifying whether either of these rules can apply to you.

If you are a continuing UWS student unable to progress, you can find out more about your funding options in the Resits section of our Things not going well? web page.

Carnegie Trusts Undergraduate Tuition Fee Grant

The Carnegie Trust administers a number of different schemes to different types of students, including the Undergraduate Tuition Fee Grant Scheme. This scheme can be an excellent source of funding for tuition support if you have exhausted your entitlement to SAAS support.

Generally, applicants need to be Scottish by birth or descent, or have attended a secondary school in Scotland for at least 2 years, and undertaking their first degree. The Trust have a very efficient application process and can be contacted directly if you are unsure about your eligibility. Applications tend to open in March, prior to your course start date, and remain open until the end of November, but it is always best to apply early.

Find out more on the Carnegie Trust website

Alternative Sources of Funding

There are lots of alternative sources of funding, like charities and trusts, that can help finance your studies. These can include grants that can pay tuition fees, living cost support and funding for research expenses so this can be a good avenue to explore whether you have been unable to get funding through the above sources, or are simply looking to top this up.

When searching for additional financial support, it is important to understand that this can take up a lot of time. While there is no guarantee that you will find a source of funds for you, you definitely won’t find anything if you don’t try.

This type of funding can vary from small amounts, such as £200, to larger amounts that might cover your full tuition fee for a year. Most students who achieve success with these types of funds do so because they continually research and apply to everything they can. Numerous grants of £200 can really add up.

It’s also important to remember that most of these funds are competitive, similar to applying for a job. Many people might apply, but there may be only one award available. As such, it is important that you spend time on any application. Carefully follow any guidance notes and make sure your application will stand out in a crowd.

The best place to start exploring this avenue is through our Additional Financial Support webpage. Click on the link and you will find a lot of resources to help get you started. Just remember, we can’t possibly include every fund on our webpage, so don’t limit yourself to this page alone.

MOD's Enhanced Learning Credits Scheme (ELC)

If you are a member of the Armed Forces, you may be eligible to apply for financial support for studies through the MODs Enhanced Learning Credits Scheme. Many of the courses available at UWS are registered as part of this scheme, which could provide some financial support towards the cost of tuition, should you not be eligible for SAAS or Carnegie Trusts, who in most cases can cover the full amount.

Find our more on the Enhanced Learning Credits website

Other sources of funding

When you become a student you can become eligible for childcare and discretionary funds, trust funds and scholarships. You may also find that your entitlement to benefits can change, so use the following links to ensure you receive the financial support you are eligible for.

Scottish UWS Student Managing their Money | UWS Funding Options | University of the West of Scotland

Managing your money

Once you have a better understanding of the funding you can receive, it’s important to start thinking about what you need to spend it on and how far it will stretch. Visit our Money and Debt Advice section for advice on budgeting, and making your money go further.

Find out more
Last updated: 30/05/2018