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Check your eligibility

Your university or college will decide which students should be on a shortlist (or capping list) for a bursary.

You’ll only be assessed for a bursary if you‘re on the capping list and meet the eligibility criteria.

To apply you need to meet eligibility criteria to show you:

  • live in England on the day your course starts (and normally live there)
  • have lived in the UK, the channel islands or the isle of man, for the three years before the start of your course
  • are studying on an approved course

You can’t apply if you:

  • are on an employment based course
  • are studying on a joint nursing and social work course (apply for an NHS Bursary here)
  • already have a higher education social work qualification

Eligibility criteria

You must meet the residency criteria and be on an eligible course to be considered for a bursary.

Eligible courses

You must be studying, or intending to study, on a college based social work course approved by the following:

  • the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  •  the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)
  •  the Care Council for Wales
  • the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC)

Check which courses are approved education and training programmes .

If you’re studying at college you’re not eligible if a social care employer is giving you:

  • any paid time off to allow you to attend your studies
  • payment of all or part of your tuition fees
  • payment from a practice learning provider for undertaking placement duties for them
  • funds through the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC)
  • funds through the Department of Children, Schools and Families (via social work reform funds - for example the CWDC graduate recruitment scheme)
  • any other form of support to assist with your social work training

If you’re studying on a college based course you’re not eligible if:

  • you’re receiving funding from a publicly funded body. 

Funding through Student Finance England, Government Benefit Agencies and bursaries from your Higher Education Institution is excluded.

If you’re studying at college and receiving a retainer, it must:

  • be offered as an incentive to engage in employment with the retainer provider once the recipient qualifies as a social worker, and not as support towards the recipient's social work training
  • be paid back if the recipient does not complete their training or engage in employment with the provider
  • not be  funded from the CWDC or Department of Children, Schools and Families (via social work reform funds - for example the CWDC graduate recruitment scheme)

The recipient is not and will not be engaged in employment with, be contracted to, on a temporary assignment with or seconded to the organisation(s) providing the retainer, throughout the social work training.

Residency criteria

Full time undergraduate students

If you’re on a full-time undergraduate course and you have the relevant student loan notification for the first academic year of your course from Student Finance England you’ll normally be considered as having met the residency criteria for a bursary. However, additional residency checks may be carried out if we decide we need further information following receipt of your application form.

Postgraduate or part-time undergraduate students

You will be required to provide the relevant documentary evidence of your residency with your application form.  Depending on your circumstances, this may be your passport or birth certificate and any other relevant supporting information.  The application form provides guidance on what you will need to send to us.

To be eligible for the Social Work Bursary, you must satisfy the residency conditions in any one of the following three categories:

  1. UK nationals or;
  2. EU/EEA nationals (not UK nationals) and family members or;
  3. Non-UK/non-EU/non-EEA nationals

Regardless of which category applies to you, you must be ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the first academic year in which you start your course.

For the purpose of the residency criteria, the first day of the academic year begins on:

  • 1 September for Autumn start courses (courses starting from 1 September to 31 December)
  • 1 January for Winter start courses (courses starting from 1 January to 31 March)

If you are applying for a Social Work Bursary for the first time, you will be required to send evidence to prove your eligibility along with your application form.

UK nationals

You must meet all of the following rules:

(i) You must be ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course.

Please note: If you are ordinarily resident in England as a result of moving from another UK country for the purpose of undertaking your course (or one immediately before), you will be considered ordinarily resident in the country from which you moved.

and;

(ii) You must have been ordinarily resident in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the three years immediately before the start of the academic year, unless:

  • you (or your parent, step-parent, spouse, or civil partner) are (or were) a member of the UK armed forces posted overseas during this period;
  • you were taking a gap year;
  •  you or your parent, step parent, spouse or civil partner were temporarily employed outside the UK.

If one of the bullet points above applies to you, you will normally be regarded as being ordinarily resident in the UK.

and;

(iii) You must have settled status, which means you must be settled in the UK within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971.

This includes British citizens and applicants with indefinite leave to remain or right of abode.

or;

(iv) You, your spouse/civil partner or your parents are UK nationals who have returned from work in another member country of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

You must have been ordinarily resident in the EEA or Switzerland for the three years immediately before the first day of the first academic year in which you start your course.

EU/EEA nationals (not UK nationals) and their family members

(i) You must be ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the academic year in which you start your course.

If you are not, you may instead be allocated an ‘EU Fees’ award, where your tuition fees will be paid if you are allocated a capped bursary place, but you will not receive any maintenance grant.

An ‘EU Fees’ award will only be granted if you have been ordinarily resident in the EEA throughout the three years immediately before your course.

and;

(ii) You must have been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the three years immediately before the first day of the academic year in which you start your course.

If you have not, and you do not meet the criteria in either of the two categories (a) or (b) below, you may instead qualify to receive an ‘EU Fees’ award under the provisions described in (i) above.

a. You or your spouse/civil partner, parent or step-parent are from an EEA country or Switzerland and both of the bullet points below apply:

  • you can show that you or your spouse/civil partner or your parent or a step-parent has EEA migrant worker status
  • you have been living in the EEA or Switzerland for the three years before the first day of the academic year in which you start your course

b. You, your spouse/civil partner or your parent/step-parent are an EEA frontier worker and all of the bullet points below apply:

  • you/they are from Switzerland or an EEA country;
  • you/they work in the UK;
  • you/they return to a residence in Switzerland or an EEA country at least once a week;
  • you have been living in the EEA or Switzerland for the three years before the first day of the academic year in which you start your course.

Non-UK/Non-EU/Non-EEA nationals

You must be ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the academic year in which you start your course.

If you have moved to England mainly in order to study, you will normally be considered ordinarily resident in the country from which you moved.

and either:

(a) You or your spouse/civil partner, parent or step-parent have been recognised by the UK Home Office as a refugee:

  • If you have refugee status in your own right you must have been ordinarily resident in the UK since being granted this status.
  • If you are the spouse or partner of someone with refugee status, you must have been married or in a civil partnership with that person at the time of their application for asylum.
  • If you are the child or step-child of someone who has been granted refugee status, you must have been their child or step child at the time of their application for asylum and have been under 18 on this date).

or;

(b) You or your spouse/civil partner your parent or step-parent have been granted humanitarian protection by the Home Office.

  • If you have been granted humanitarian protection in your own right you must have been ordinarily resident in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the three years immediately before the first day of the first academic year of your course.
  • If you are the spouse or partner of someone with humanitarian protection, you must have been married or in a civil partnership with that person at the time of their application for asylum .
  • If you are the child or step-child of someone who has been granted humanitarian protection, you must have been their child or step-child at the time of their application for asylum and have been under 18 on this date.

or;

(c) You have been granted Leave to Remain by the Home Office

  • If you have been granted Leave to Remain in the UK, (including Discretionary Leave to Remain), you must be ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course and have been ordinarily resident anywhere in the UK for the three years preceding this date, as long as any part of this period was not wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full time education.
  • In addition, if you are/were under 18 on the first day of the first academic year, you must demonstrate a minimum of 7 years continuous ordinary residence in the UK before this date.
  • If you are/were over 18 on this date, you must demonstrate that you have lived in the UK for either half your life or for a period of 20 years, whichever is applicable. This can include the initial 3 year period, mentioned above.

 

Capping criteria

The number of people who can get a bursary is limited (or capped) and there’s no guarantee you’ll receive a bursary if you take up the offer of a place on a social work course.

Capping explained

Universities decide which students to place on the capping list based on the capping criteria set by the Department of Health. 

Universities then send us their capping list so we can assess these students against eligibility criteria when we receive their application form.

If you already receive a bursary

If you already get a bursary you’ll retain one of your university’s allocated bursary places until you complete your course.

We can’t guarantee how much bursary you’ll get until we receive and assess your application form.

If you transfer universities, you won’t automatically be given a place on their capping list.

Getting a place on the capping list

The NHSBSA has no input into this decision process, so we can’t advise if you’ll receive an allocation.

Capping regulations are set by the Department of Health and you can find out more about the process in their social work bursary information pack.

If you don’t get a place on the capping list

If you don’t get a place on your university’s capping list you won’t be eligible to apply for a social work bursary.

You might be able to apply for help towards your travel expenses to placements through the Placement Travel Allowance (PTA) if you meet the other eligibility criteria.