Bursaries and other funding options

If you're experiencing financial difficulties, a variety of bursaries and funds are available to you, either directly through the University of Plymouth or partner organisations. For information about the bursaries and funds available at our partner organisations, please contact the college directly.

You'll find information on this page about the following bursaries and funds:

  • Summer Support Fund 2019/20
  • Short-Term Hardship Grant (COVID-19)
  • Financial Support Fund 2019/20
  • EU Hardship Fund 2019/20
  • What Just Happened Fund
  • Helena Kennedy Foundation
  • Mayflower Award
  • Care Leavers Bursary.


Eligible students can only receive one bursary in any given academic year; should you qualify for two or more, you will only be entitled to receive whichever has the highest value. This may mean an adjustment is needed to payment amounts during the year, but you will be advised if this is the case.

Please note that if you are re-assessed at any point during the year, either by Student Finance or by the University, and you are deemed to no longer meet the criteria for the bursary that you have been receiving, no further payments can be made.

For full terms and conditions please email the Student Funding Unit at studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk stating which award you are enquiring about.

Summer Support Fund 2019/20

The Summer Support Fund can provide basic assistance for students who are unable to work during the summer period (up until the end of August) for personal or health reasons, or due to course-related restrictions, and forms part of the University of Plymouth Financial Support Fund. If you are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, please refer to our Short-term hardship grant for COVID-19 criteria (see below).

A finite amount of money is available in the Summer Support Fund budget and awards are intended to form a contribution toward costs; therefore, they should neither be considered as a main source of income nor relied upon or anticipated in advance. Once available funds have been exhausted, no further applications can be considered.

Who can apply?

Essential criteria – you must meet all of these:

  • You are a full-time undergraduate
  • You have ‘home’ status
  • Your tuition fees for the year have been paid in full
  • You have received the full entitlement of a maintenance loan
  • You have used up all available credit (this includes your overdraft) and this must be visible on your bank statement.

Qualifying categories – you must be in at least one of these:

  • A student who has dependents under the age of 14 and who has applied for all benefit entitlements. Before contacting us, please liaise with UPSU Advice for a benefit check to ensure that you are getting your full entitlement and provide evidence of this outcome. UPSU Advice contact details: +44 1752 588373, advice@su.plymouth.ac.uk
  • A student who is ill or has a disability and is, therefore, unable to undertake work, and for whom other benefits are not available. You will need to provide documentary evidence from your doctor or the hospital that states that you are unfit to work for a specified period
  • A student who is the primary and recognised carer of a disabled or seriously ill person
  • A student on an integral (not voluntary) placement throughout the summer vacation, who has no other income source once the maintenance loan has been exhausted. Applications for the 2019/20 Financial Support Fund will be taken into account and included in our calculation
  • A student who is unexpectedly required to resubmit elements of their course, either in or out of attendance across the summer, where this prevents them from seeking work. Please note that assistance may be limited to four weeks
  • A care leaver or estranged student. You must provide evidence of any housing or living cost support from a local authority and outline why you are unable to support yourself, as it is expected that you will have secured work during the vacation

You are not eligible to apply for the Fund if you meet one of these criteria:

  • You are a final-year student (unless you are required to resubmit elements of your course during the summer)
  • You are a non-final-year student who is simply unable to find work and does not fall within one of the above categories. You may qualify for our short-term hardship grant (COVID-19) if you are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 (see criteria below)
  • You are a postgraduate student. It is assumed that postgraduate students have made realistic provision for their studies and the cost of living throughout the summer period and are, therefore, not expected to apply other than in an emergency situation
  • You are an EU or international student. You may qualify for our short-term hardship grant (COVID-19) if you are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 (see criteria below)

How to apply

Application forms will be available from 8 June 2020. Please e-mail studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk for a form. Our opening times are Monday–Thursday 08:30-17:00 and Friday 8:30-16:30.

Short-term hardship grant (COVID-19)

Many of you may find yourselves in unexpected financial hardship during this difficult time. Please ensure that you first check the government guidance on support to which you may be entitled.

Despite the current crisis, many companies, including supermarket chains, delivery companies and food producers, are recruiting casual and part-time workers to cover staff shortages. The careers service is advertising these current vacancies and also offering online support via Skype, telephone and Zoom; log onto MyCareer or email careers@plymouth.ac.uk for more information. If you are considering work during this period, please consider your own health along with the health of the people you live with before accepting a role.

The University has introduced a Short-term hardship grant, which has been created in response to direct financial hardship as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. All enrolled students at the University are eligible to apply. This includes undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research, home, EU and international students. The purpose of the grant is to assist you, in the short term only, where you are suffering financial hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-exclusive examples of cases in which we may award money are to help out with housing and food costs, travel expenses, technology costs associated with online learning, and other financial challenges. Awards will only be awarded once on a case-by-case basis according to the severity of need. The decision made by the University is final. The fund is limited and is not intended to be funding to replace the Financial Support Fund (see below), which is for longer-term financial hardship. Support cannot be offered to students for tuition fees through this fund. If you have any questions, please contact studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk

Application form and further information 

Thank you to Santander UK for contributing to this fund.

Financial Support Fund 2019/20 (fund now closed for 2019/20 academic year)

Are you a home student in significant hardship, either because of extra costs you have to meet or due to an overall shortfall of income?

You may be able to receive help from this fund. This fund provides discretionary financial assistance to help you to access and remain in higher education, particularly if you need financial help to meet additional costs that cannot be met using other sources of support.

The fund can help to alleviate unexpected financial hardship. We particularly encourage students who may be considering leaving higher education because of financial problems to apply.

Opening period for 2019–2020: 7 October 2019–29 May 2020 (final year students must submit their application and all supporting evidence by 8 May 2020).

Please note that you must be registered on your course and you must have received statutory funding before you can make your application.

Our Financial Support Fund guidance notes contain more information on conditions and criteria, as well as answers to your FAQs.

Need more advice? Visit our support and advice pages.

EU Hardship Fund (this fund is now closed for 2019/20 academic year)

This fund provides discretionary financial assistance to help you to access and remain in higher education, particularly if you need financial help to meet additional costs that cannot be met using other sources of support. The fund can help to alleviate unexpected financial hardship. However, if you are an EU student, you need to have income that covers your living and housing costs in the first instance before we can consider you for an award.

To reflect this, a Notional EU Income (NEI) of £185 per week will be applied to full-time EU applications (£148 to those with dependents or who have a disability).

The EU Hardship Fund is open from 7 October 2019 to 29 May 2020. Please note that final year students must submit their completed and fully documented applications by 8 May 2020, otherwise we will be unable to consider your request for financial assistance. The University will only consider one application per person to this fund in each academic year.

Although some EU students may receive some support from the EU Hardship Fund, it will not be sufficient as an income in its own right and can only be seen as a supplement to funding from other sources. The fund cannot pay tuition fees.

Awards to successful applicants are capped as follows:

  • Those with dependants/disabilities may receive up to £500.
  • Final year students without dependants may receive up to £400.
  • Non-final year students without dependants may receive up to £300.

For an application form, please contact the Student Funding Unit by calling +44 1752 587676, by email at studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk or in person by visiting the Student Hub in The Charles Seale-Hayne Library.

If you are a home student, please complete the Financial Support Fund application form.

What Just Happened Fund

The What Just Happened Fund provides help for you and your family if you’re receiving emergency hospital care. It was established in 2013 thanks to Plymouth graduate April Watkins and matched funding from the University.

The fund provides limited financial support for you and/or your close family or friends for costs incurred at short notice if you unexpectedly require treatment for a serious injury or illness while you’re studying at the University. The available financial help can be used toward the cost of travel, accommodation, and food and drink during the stay.

April had the idea for the fund while recovering from emergency surgery and chemotherapy to treat a brain tumour. Fortunately, her father was able to stay with family in Cornwall while visiting her in hospital, but the situation got April thinking about those whose families might struggle to afford the costs of visiting their loved one.

Determined to make a difference, April set about fundraising through events such as masked balls, pub quizzes and cake sales, and was overwhelmed by the level of support she received.

April, who graduated in September 2013 with a 2:1 in Sociology, donated the money raised to the University to establish the fund.

‘It is my hope that this money will mean that someone else in my position—in hospital, hundreds of miles from home—can have the support of their loved ones by their bedside,’ she says.

Claims to the fund can be made retrospectively all year round by completing and returning the application form to the Student Funding Unit (see our contact details on this page).

Download the What Just Happened Fund application form

Helena Kennedy Foundation

The Helena Kennedy Foundation offers support to disadvantaged students who have overcome significant barriers in order to continue with their education at university level. Each year, the Helena Kennedy Foundation invites further education colleges, adult education centres and sixth form colleges to nominate a student to receive a £1,500 bursary sponsored by the University of Plymouth to support their progression to higher education.

Application forms and eligibility criteria are available online.

The University does not administer the Helena Kennedy awards. For further information, please contact the foundation by email: admin@hkf.org.uk

Mayflower Award, 2020 entry

The University of Plymouth is proud to offer students a life-changing, transformative experience while they learn and research. We also know that embarking on such an exciting experience can be daunting and that students from particular groups may face additional difficulty in accessing higher education.

To support the University’s ambitions around widening participation, we are pleased to offer financial support in the form of a bursary (The Mayflower Award) to undergraduate students from the following groups:

  • Students whose household income is between £0 and £35,000 per year
  • Care leavers
  • Students who are estranged from their families
  • Young adult carers

Students from a household where the annual income is less than £35,000 per year will have their eligibility checked for the award automatically once a full funding application has been assessed and finalised with Student Finance England. The award is paid in two instalments in the student’s first year of study. All eligible recipients will be automatically identified from the systems of the University and Student Finance England, no separate application is needed. This award is available to students who are entering their first year of study on their first course in September 2020, who are identified as being domiciled in England and whose household income is between £0 and £35,000. Please note that this award is payable only in the first year of study and will not be repeated in subsequent years.

Students from one of the other above groups must contact the Student Funding Team as soon as they have enrolled at the University of Plymouth so that we can assess eligibility and organise for any bursary to be paid. The award is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and if you are eligible you will receive the bursary for the duration of your undergraduate studies, subject to T & C’s.

For all Mayflower Award recipients you must be paying the full tuition fee for the year and have received the full funding package from Student Finance England.

Please note that payment is dependent on satisfactory attendance and withdrawal or interruption will result in the award being cancelled.

If you have been engaged in any previous higher education study on any course, you will not be entitled to this award. This includes not completing all or part of a course or not gaining a qualification on it.

It is students’ responsibility to declare whether they have had any previous higher education study, particularly if undertaken at a different institution or in previous years at the University of Plymouth, as we may not be able to identify this from our record systems. If you have been earmarked or contacted for the Mayflower Award but fall into the previous study category, you should contact studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk as soon as possible, as your eligibility may change or be cancelled and you could be asked to repay part or all of the award.

Please note that if you are re-assessed at any point during the year by Student Finance or by the University, your award could be amended or cancelled.

Partner College students, including UPIC students, whose fees are paid directly to the college at which they are studying, are NOT eligible for this award.

See the full terms and conditions for further details.

Care Leavers Bursary – changes for students who commenced a course after September 2018

Students who begin a course at the university from September 2019 can be considered for an award provided that they have taken out the full student funding package from Student Finance England/Wales/Norther Ireland and have been given Care Leaver Status by one of these funding bodies.

Please note:

  • Partner college including UPIC students are not eligible for this award from the University of Plymouth and should instead enquire about any available support from their college.
  • Students who are not funded by Student Finance England/Wales/Northern Ireland but instead receive a grant/grants for their studies or tuition fees are not entitled to the award.
  • Students who have already gained a degree are not eligible to receive the Care Leavers Bursary.
  • Students who have had previous study where a bursary was paid can only be considered for an award on an individual basis, subject to circumstances (i.e., usually if extenuating circumstances are involved). Any previous bursary award will be taken into consideration so if your application is successful, the bursary may not be payable for the entire duration of your studies.

Access to Learning Technology Grant 2020/21

The university recommends that all students have access to their own technology to access their programme in 2020/21, including the right hardware (e.g., a laptop), software, and connectivity (e.g., broadband).

If you’re purchasing a laptop, you should review the minimum, recommended and specialist specifications, but if you’re unsure about the requirements for your course, ensure that you ask your programme team before you buy anything.

If you find that obtaining the right technology is difficult for financial reasons, the university might be able to support you. We have a small fund available to award to new and returning students to access their course where they cannot afford the technology required. Through this grant, we may be able to help meet the costs of hardware (e.g., a laptop or keyboard) and/or an internet connection.

We only have limited funds, so please only apply if you need to, because doing so will affect the ability of others who may require help.

The Access to Learning Technology Grant is open for applications from 3 August 2020 to 4 October 2020, inclusive. 

Read the full details and apply.