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The basics
Study abroad : Applying to University

Scholarships, grants and bursaries for European students

We explain what financial aid is available for European students looking to study abroad

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There are a wide variety of scholarships, grants and bursaries available for European undergraduate and postgraduate students. The secret is to do your research and apply for the financial support that best fits your academic life and living conditions and future career plans.


Many students think you have to be extraordinarily clever or living in real hardship before you can apply for one of these grants, but this is not necessarily true. But first, what exactly is the difference between a scholarship, a grant and a bursary? We had a look…


Scholarships, grants and bursaries: what’s the difference?

Scholarships: are awards of financial aid to help students with their education. Institutions often allocate a certain number of scholarships for international students each year – make sure you check the institution’s website to see if you’re eligible.

What makes scholarships different from other awards is that they are not given for financial need alone. Scholarships are awarded to a student because of a reason, either that the student has qualified for it by academic or athletic merit, or by choosing a particular career or other specific characteristics. Scholarship money is not required to be repaid.


Grants: These funds are usually given out by government departments, trusts or corporations to a student (or an educational institution, a business, etc). Grants are non-repayable, and designed to be of financial help. Check the government website in your home country as you may be eligible for a government study abroad grant.


Bursaries: A bursary is a finical award made by an institution to a person or groups of people who are not able to pay full tuition fees. In return for the bursary, the individual is normally obligated to work or study at the institution for the same duration as the bursary.


Application process

Which scholarship should I choose?
Scholarships can be country-specific, subject-specific, institution-specific and even gender-specific. For instance, there are a large amount of scholarships available for women who want to study typically male-dominated subjects. There are also an unusually high amount of scholarships for students who wish to study in the Netherlands or Belgium. Check country government websites, your own home country’s government education website, institution websites and key company websites thoroughly. You may be eligible for something you didn’t realise!

Deadlines can vary greatly, so the best thing to do is to check with the individual scholarship entity to be certain. Generally speaking the earlier you apply the greater chance you have of being successful. As you approach the deadline the pool of applicants will be even greater, so make sure you get in early.  

List your strengths
Come up with a list of what you can offer your institution and how your skills could also benefit your home country. Think of the long-term, what job do you hope to get after graduating? There are some companies that will financially support a candidate. For example, some engineering firms may contribute towards fees for an exceptional candidate to study engineering and so on. What could you offer a company in the long-term?


Useful scholarship websites


Notable scholarships

Erasmus Mundus Scholarships (to study anywhere in Europe)
A European Commission initiative that provides funding for students all over the world to study in Europe at selected institutions.

British Chevening Scholarships – (to study in the UK) Funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and partnered organizations, these scholarships are available for graduate programmes across any subject.

Australia Awards Fellowships – (to study in Australia) These fellowships are available for international students from any country wishing to undertake short-term study and professional development programmes at selected institutions and organisations in Australia.

Fulbright Foreign Student Program – (to study in the US) This government-funded scholarship for graduate students, young professionals and artists is available to international students in all subject areas bar medicine, and allows study in the US for up to one year or more.

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