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National Scholarship - UK

For students attending school in the United Kingdom, there are various scholarship programs available to assist with the cost of tuition and furthering education. The largest scholarship program, now ended, is the National Scholarship Programme (NSP).

National Scholarship History

In 2004, the Higher Education Act was passed to allow for the change in tuition fees across the United Kingdom. Students in higher education had been required to pay a general fee each year beginning in the late 1990s to continuously fund the undergraduate and postgraduate higher levels of education. However, the Higher Education Act of 2004 allowed universities (many focused in England) to charge a higher tuition in order to compensate for funding and large numbers of students enrolling in higher education. Unfortunately this new concept of funding raised concerns in the concept of future debt and seemed to dissuade prospective students from enrolling. In order to regulate concerns about enrollment costs and growing tuition to ensure that students who were financially unable to meet these requirements were still pursuing a future in higher education, the Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, closely followed by the Office for Fair Access, was established. In the United Kingdom, the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) typically maintains the scholarship programs throughout the nation. The Office for Fair Access was created to support the Director of Fair Access to Higher Education to assist in better promoting continuous education, following the Higher Education Act of 2004.

"OFFA's aims as an organisation are:
  1. To increase the proportion of learners from under-represented and disadvantaged groups who enter, succeed in and are well prepared to progress from higher education to employment or postgraduate study.
  2. To make faster progress in improving access to the most selective higher education institutions by students from under-represented and disadvantaged groups. These aims, which are set out in our strategic plan, reflect our belief that everyone who has the potential and ambition to succeed in higher education should have equal opportunity and support to do so, regardless of background, family income or disability"
(Ref: Aims and Objectives, https://www.offa.org.uk/).

The Office for Fair Access assisted in the creation of the National Scholarship Programme in 2012-2013. The purpose was to provide non-repayable financial support to lower income students.-

The National Scholarship Programme

The National Scholarship was created to directly benefit individual, eligible students; it was implemented in 2012, for students entering higher education that autumn. Starting with £50m as support for students and growing by an added £50m each school year, the programme would reach £150m by 2014-2015. Each year the program would be reviewed and amended based on results shown. Each individual institution within the English region would be responsible for awarding the scholarship to students based on criteria and need, and should display the awards on the institution websites.

At a minimum during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years, for those students that were deemed eligible and met the criteria for institutions, each full-time student could receive £3,000 towards higher education, paid in their first year. Students entering higher education programs in 2014-2015 were awarded £2,000 at minimum.

Who Can Participate

The National Scholarship Programme (NSP) was only available to universities and institutions within the English region in the United Kingdom. It aimed to help individual students from low-income backgrounds as they entered higher education at the undergraduate level. Students became eligible for the scholarship if their household income totaled £25k or less. The income only declared a student as eligible and did not guarantee an award. Each institution would have it's own list of criteria that must be met in order to gain the award for higher education; most criteria were listed on institution's websites during the time of the scholarship. To discover if a student is eligible beyond the household income status, students were directed to contact each individual university or institution they were interested in attending, to meet with an advisor or financial officer to discuss the possibility of gaining an award.

The National Scholarship Programme has currently ended for students entering into higher education, beginning with the 2015-2016 year and beyond. Students already involved in the program will continue to receive assistance as per their original award plan.