What funding is there for studying social work?
You might be able to secure some funding to help you with undergraduate or postgraduate social work study in the UK. The arrangements vary across the UK and it’s important to check for the latest information when you apply, as any public funding is potentially subject to change.
What funding is available for social work study in England?
The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) administers bursaries for social work students who are resident in England. You can find the latest details on the NHSBSA website.
New applicants to undergraduate social work courses do not receive a bursary for the first year of their course. Even if you pass the first year there is no guarantee that you will receive a bursary after that. Once you have been awarded a funded place you will retain this support unless you discontinue your studies, but you’ll still need to reapply for the next academic year.
You’ll need to apply for an approved undergraduate social work course and meet the eligibility criteria, including rules about residency, to qualify for a bursary after your first year of study. There is a cap on the number of funded places available, so you will only receive a bursary if the institution you have applied to selects you for a funded place.
Undergraduate social work students who are successful in their application for a bursary currently receive up to around £5,200 per year in London and up to around £4,800 per year outside London. This is not means tested. A pro rata award is available for students who are allocated funded places on part-time courses (apart from during the first year).
The undergraduate bursary is paid in three instalments each year. Students are responsible for paying their own tuition fees and can either use the bursary towards this or apply for a tuition fee loan from Student Finance England.
Funding for undergraduate social work study elsewhere in the UK
There are no bursaries available for Scottish students on undergraduate courses in social work. You can find out about funding for undergraduate study from the Student Awards Agency Scotland.
You can find out about undergraduate funding for social work for students from Wales from the Care Council for Wales.
Students from Northern Ireland can find out about funding for undergraduate social work degrees from Student Finance NI. There is also an incentive scheme for students from Northern Ireland who undertake undergraduate social work study there. This is offered by the Department of Health, Social Services & Public Safety (DHSSPS) and provides a grant of £4,000 a year, which is not means tested. You can find out about the incentive scheme from the Northern Ireland Social Care Council website.
What funding is available for postgraduate courses in social work?
Students resident in England can apply for a social work bursary for an approved postgraduate course.
This bursary is currently a package consisting of various different elements. The non means-tested elements include a basic grant, support towards tuition fees and allowances for those with a disability. For 2015/16, this included a basic grant worth up to around £3,700 in London and £3,400 outside London, available on a pro rata basis for part-time courses. Funding is also available towards the cost of postgraduate tuition fees. In 2015/16, this was up to £4,000 for full-time courses and up to around £2,000 for part-time study. The disabled student allowance could include up to £20,700 a year for a non-medical helper as well as other funding.
The means-tested elements of the bursary include a postgraduate maintenance grant worth up to around £4,200 in London and up to around £2,700 outside London.
You may also be eligible to claim allowances for dependants. These consist of the childcare allowance, which is a contribution towards childcare costs, adult dependants allowance (worth up to around £2,800) and parents’ learning allowance (worth up to around £1,600). All of these allowances are income assessed. Further details are available from the NHSBSA.
Students from Wales can apply for a non income-assessed social work bursary, which was worth around £6,700 per year in 2015/16. Further details are available from the Care Council for Wales.
Students from Scotland can apply for postgraduate bursaries for approved social work courses. Funding is reviewed annually and currently includes a tuition fee grant and a maintenance grant. More information is available from the Scottish Social Services Council.
You can find out more about the funding available for the Northern Ireland degree in social work from the Northern Ireland Social Care Council.
Financial support available to graduates on the Frontline programme
Graduates on the Frontline programme are paid a bursary equivalent to a salary of around £19,000 in the first year, plus London weighting, and a local authority salary for a newly qualified social worker (likely to be around £22,000) in the second year.