Becoming an Engineer - Access to Student Funding
Starting a degree or an apprenticeship can be a daunting prospect, as you may be nervous about finances. However, there is a great deal of standard support available as well as some specialised help for the engineering field.
There is standard funding available to all UK national students who are working towards an undergraduate degree. However, the financial support available to each student will depend on his or her individual situation.
Government issued student finance in the UK is generally composed of a tuition fee loan, a tuition fee grant, a maintenance loan, and a maintenance grant. The amounts you receive will be largely dependent on your household income. Certain factors such as having a disability or being a single parent can also increase the amount of support you receive.
If you are considering starting a degree in engineering, you are primarily restricted to standard university funding, however there are a number of grants and scholarships available to those who fit the criteria.
Available funding for University Student Engineers:
Engineering Horizons Bursary - This bursary is made available to 3 students, with £1,000 per year being awarded for up to 3 years of an undergraduate degree. The funding also comes with free membership of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for the duration of the course. Students who have overcome difficulties in their personal life or other challenges are encouraged to apply, and this bursary is also available to part time students. Holders of this bursary are expected to be champions for engineering and the IET. For more information, please visit the IET website.
Diamond Jubilee Scholarships - These scholarships are awarded to students who have achieved high academic success, with minimum 3 ‘A’s at A Level or equivalent. There are varying amounts available depending on the scholarship you are awarded, and around 100 are available across different engineering fields. For more information, please visit the IET website.
IET Undergraduate Grants - IET Undergraduate Grants are awarded to ten students who are in their final year of an IET accredited degree. The grants are worth £1,000, however you must be achieving 60% overall (2:1). For more information, please visit the IET website.
If university does not appeal to you, you may wish to pursue a vocational route into engineering. Apprenticeships are available across the country, and at a wide range of employers. These employers teach you valuable skills both on the job and at college, and allow you to earn money alongside this.
There is currently no set wage for apprentices, however the minimum amount per hour is set at £3.30 as of October 2015. This amount should increase as you progress through your course. On average, the weekly wage of an apprentice is around £170, and may even go as high as £210 in some circumstances. Apprentices also receive the same benefits as standard employees, such as holiday and pension contributions.
Available funding for Apprentice Engineers:
Whitworth Scholarship - The Whitworth Scholarship is awarded to those who have pursued an apprenticeship for a minimum of 2 years, and is to help an apprentice get into an undergraduate degree. This scholarship is worth £5,000 a year, and can be awarded for up to 4 years. For more information, please visit the Institution of Mechanical Engineers website.
Engineering Horizons Bursary - As well as being available to students, this bursary is also open to three apprentices per year. The conditions and amount awarded remain the same as the student version. For more information, please visit the IET website.
There will be fierce competition for these prestigious prizes, and not everyone will qualify. It is important to not become disheartened, as there are many other routes to support yourself through university, for example: working in an engineering firm, or any part time job. If you do decide to aim for a scholarship or grant, try and ensure your application is spotless, and that you obtain strong references.