Seeking for a better education comes with its peculiar burdens. Having the right kind of education doesn’t often come cheap, but the cost of not having one can be even more expensive. An international student bears a lot of baggage when it comes to financial needs. Unlike the native students who might often be eligible for a tuition-free education in their homelands, the international student has to grapple with tuition fees, accommodation fees, travel fees, study material fees, living costs to mention a few.
This financial burden is often barely borne by the international students, and in countries that allow for the international student to work, they often do so exhaustively in order to make up for any deficit in their financial obligations. This concentration on part-time work often has its negative effect on the student’s academic performance. This is why scholarships are crucial in the life of international students. And when the student is based in a country such as the UK where heavy taxes are a norm, the students need all the help they can get. To help them get by, the UK provides for several kinds of financial package for international students, ranging from student grants to loans and scholarships.
Student grants are a financial aid gift packages that are awarded to students to enable them to cover the costs of the study. Unlike scholarships where a student is awarded based on excellence, grants are targeted at students with the most need for financial assistance and they are often non-repayable. The biggest giver of student grants in the United Kingdom is the government through its various departments and agencies that offer these grants through third-parties. These third-parties, in turn, carry out the tasks of disbursing the grants to those that most need it. Other sources of student grants include corporate foundations and charity organizations.
For international students that aren’t able to get grants, student loans are the next available options. Students loans like every other financial loan are given to the student at an interest but the rate of interest is significantly low and the payment plan only kicks in after the student successfully concludes their program of study, In the UK most of the student loans are awarded by state-owned student loan companies. Student loans in the UK are usually cancelled if the student dies or if they become permanently incapacitated and unable to work.
In the United Kingdom, another source of financial aid for students is through bursary aids provided by the schools themselves. These are financial aids that are given to selected students to enable them to complete their studies, but with the obligation to pay it back by working with the institution in some capacity at the end of their program for an agreed period of time. Bursary awards are not given solely based on academic performance, although excellence carries some weight in the consideration.
Scholarships in the UK like most other hotspots for an international student are given for students in order to enable them to complete their registered programs of study in a conducive and stress-free manner. Unlike Bursary awards and student loans, scholarships come with no obligation for any repayments. And unlike grants, scholarships are almost always purely based on the academic performances of the student. There are several categories of scholarships in the UK, but the most common are:
- Merit-based Scholarships: These scholarships are awarded to a student purely based on their academic performances, athletic prowess or artistic abilities.
- Student-Specific Scholarships: This category of scholarship is award to students based on pre-requisite conditions such as the student’s gender, country, region, religion, medical history etc.
- Brand Scholarships: These are scholarships that are awarded by companies in order to boost their brands. These kinds of scholarships are often awarded at the end of certain contests that the student participates in.
There are a plethora of scholarships that await the international student once they set foot in the United Kingdom. And no matter where they come from, chances are that the student will find a scholarship that will fit their criteria like a glove. Some of the most popular scholarships include:
This is one of the biggest yearly scholarship exercises in the UK and it is targeted toward international students from over 144 countries around the world. The Chevening scholarship is specifically meant for students that want to come to the UK to pursue a post-graduate degree. This scholarship is awarded by the UK government’s commonwealth office. In order to be awarded the Chevening Scholarship apart from having the first degree, the student must be willing to return to their home country after their study period to implement what they learnt in the UK. Having a 2 to 3 years work experience is also highly regarded.
This is also a post-graduate scholarship but one that is specifically targeted towards students with exceptional gifts from the United States. This scholarship was founded in 1953 as an act of recognition for the then US secretary of state George C. Marshall’s generosity towards the United Kingdom. The scholarship’s goal is to strengthen the relationship between the two countries and to encourage young American leaders to act as goodwill ambassadors between the two allied nations.
The Gates Cambridge Scholarships
One of the elite scholarships that are offered to international students is the Bill and Melinda Gates Cambridge scholarships. These scholarships are target towards excellent post-graduate students from all over the world with a view to studying exclusively at the illustrious Cambridge University. All expenses are covered by this scholarship including tuition, accommodation and living costs. Students from all countries excluding the UK itself are eligible to apply. The Gates Cambridge Scholarships are among the most competitive you will find in the UK.