Wiltshire charity helps young people achieve university dreams

By Barrie Hudson - 30 January 2024

  • Photography graduate Charly Richards said her education bursary allowed her to make the most of her time at Coventry University

    Photography graduate Charly Richards said her education bursary allowed her to make the most of her time at Coventry University

Grants of up to £1,600 a year to help young people from low-income families go to university are available from Wiltshire Community Foundation.

The community foundation’s University Bursary programme awards the sum for each year of university to students under the age of 25 to help bridge the gap between the maximum student loan available and what their families can afford to help support them.

The grants can be used for general living expenses, course costs, travel or for books and equipment. They are open to people aged between 17 and 24 who have lived in Wiltshire for at least two years. 

Applicants or their parent or carer must be in receipt of two means-tested benefits or two elements of Universal Credit.

They must be eligible for funding through Student Finance England and planning to study – or are already studying – for a first undergraduate degree at a UK university or institution.

The programme has been running since 2008 and has so far awarded more than £2m in grants. Last year 67 students were awarded a total of more than £350,000 in grants.

Previous recipients of the grants have said they allowed them to focus on their studies and not worry about paying bills. 

Photography graduate Charly Richards said her education bursary allowed her to make the most of her time at Coventry University.

She added: “Not having to work during my course allowed me time to study extra courses outside university as I prepared to go into the job market. 

"I studied for a Google certificate in marketing and app development and coding and looking back, I think that did help me secure my job. Without the grant I wouldn’t have had time for that.

“I wouldn’t have achieved as much as I did and I wouldn’t have as much time to apply for graduate jobs. When you are working during your course you just don’t have time to rest and knowing I had the grant gave me the extra time to think about what’s coming next.”

Wiltshire Community Foundation Grants Manager Nicola Hillier said the grants could make a huge difference with the cost of living crisis making it harder than ever for young people to afford university.

She added: “Why should someone with talent and drive be denied the chance to fulfil their promise just because of the financial barrier?

“Our grants can provide some certainty and peace of mind at what can be a very stressful, daunting time. They allow students to budget and make the most of what should be a life-changing experience.”

She and the foundation’s grants team keep in touch with students throughout their course. “It’s a real privilege to meet young people at the start of their university journey and watch them blossom and move into the careers they otherwise might have been denied,” she said.

“We have seen some amazing success stories of young people achieving great things in science, music, teaching, finance and any other areas so we know these grants make a world of difference.”

More details on eligibility and how to apply before the closing date of April 5 can be found at wiltshirecf.org.uk/grants-and-support/individuals.

Your Comments

Be the first to comment on this article

Login or Register to post a comment on this article

Subscribe to The Link

Registered in England & Wales. No: 4513027, Positive Media Group, Old Bank House, 5 Devizes Road, Old Town, Swindon, SN1 4BJ