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In order to ensure that financial constraints should not prevent students from accessing or succeeding in Higher Education, we offer a range of bursaries, scholarships and awards for undergraduate students (studying at levels 4, 5 and 6) and some students undertaking a PGCE, who come from population demographics which are categorised as Widening Participation. This includes students who have spent time in local authority care, students who come from households with very low incomes and students who have experienced significant barriers in their progression to university. Some of the financial awards we offer are listed below:

We offer a comprehensive package of practical and financial support for students who have spent time in local authority care or who are estranged from their families and studying without support. Use the links below to see the full range of support, which includes:

  • £3,000 per year of study (for a maximum of 3 years or 4 if students progress to PGCE)
  • Guaranteed accommodation (365 days if required)
  • Support over the summer
  • Support with graduation costs

Support for Care Leavers and Estranged Students 

St Mary's Cares Bursary 

For students from households with an income of less than £15,000pa.

For students with outstanding academic potential from households with an income of less than £25,000pa

In addition we provide a Hardship Fund for students who find themselves in critical financial hardship

In addition, for 2020/21, we have a Digital Equality Long-Term IT Loan Scheme which means that there are a number of laptops, headphones and wi-fi enabled dongles available for long term loan to students whose financial situation prevents them from being able purchase the required IT equipment for their study. There is a short application process and may be some eligibility checks, but the process is quick and straightforward and students do not need to divulge confidential personal circumstances. If you have any queries regarding the loan please contact: and

For more information on Widening Participation Financial Support for students, please get in touch with the Student Funding Service by emailing or calling 020 8240 2389.

1. What is the Student Engagement Fund?

The Student Engagement Fund ('SEF') was established by the Widening Participation Team in collaboration with the Students’ Union and Sport St Mary’s. It is a fund designed to support St Mary’s students to engage with extracurricular activities, as well as to support some course-associated costs wherever students are faced with financial barriers. It has been set up to ensure cost is not a prohibitive factor when students wish to engage in additional and enriching opportunities and experiences provided by the University. In line with the University’s core values, the fund is in place to help ensure that St Mary’s is consistently and meaningfully inclusive for all our students.

The fund is in place to provide students with practical support to purchase or reimburse small items in order to increase their engagement with and enjoyment of University life. The fund typically supports bids up to £150, depending on eligibility and the application. In recognition of the fact that we may not always know our students’ specific needs, all applications are reviewed individually on a case by case basis.

Some examples of what the fund might cover include:

  • Clubs and societies membership fees
  • Gym membership
  • DBS checks associated with a course
  • Compulsory and supplementary course costs (e.g. course kit, various equipment, first aid training, etc.)
  • Costs associated with a course trip
  • Sporting equipment such as wearable technology, items needed to play sport (e.g. racket, rugby boots, etc.), digital tech watches, etc.
  • Ticketed online university social events
  • Discretionary/occasional/one-off/exceptional travel costs where appropriate

Please note: this list is neither exhaustive nor guaranteed and each application will be reviewed individually. The SEF is focused primarily on additional, rather than primary costs, and is separate from the Hardship Fund, which supports students in financial difficulty with their fundamental living expenses. To learn more about the Hardship Fund and/or require financial and budgeting guidance, please contact

Please note that year-long memberships for sports clubs will no longer be funded by the Student Engagement Fund. However, truly exceptional circumstances where UK students wish to join for Term 2 only, and would be unable to do so without support, will be considered. 

 2. Who is the SEF for?

The fund is open to all currently registered St Mary’s University students and is specifically in place for students who, for financial reasons, do not engage with additional opportunities on offer to them.

To make sure the fund goes to the people who need it most, we've set the following conditions:

  • Students will have to demonstrate an economic need such as low household or personal income (we may check declared household income on registry information).
  • Students who are already in receipt of a financial award (scholarship or bursary) from the university, might not be eligible for this scheme, except in exceptional circumstances.

It is only in exceptional circumstances that the following students will be considered: 

* International students

* Students on a leave of absence from University

* Masters and PhD students

Please note: All students must have accessed all statutory support from the government if eligible, before applying to this fund. 

3. How do I apply to the SEF?

To apply, students must complete an application form with a personal statement explaining their need for the fund. They will also need to sign to agree to terms and conditions. The link to the application form is below.

All questions and queries should be sent to

4. How do you choose who gets a grant from the SEF?

This decision will be predominantly based on your personal statement, where you will be asked to describe clearly what you are requesting, why you need the financial support, and how this will meaningfully improve your student experience

We unfortunately cannot approve all requests we receive, so when selecting candidates, we prioritise certain groups of students when deciding how to allocate the funding. These include:

  • Undergraduate students and students studying PGCE programmes
  • Students engaging with the BUCS Active 4 programme
  • Students who have not previously applied for the SEF
  • Students with children (especially lone parents)
  • Disabled students
  • Care leavers, care experienced students or those otherwise estranged from their families
  • Students who have not previously been members of any sport club or society at the Students’ Union.

  5. How does the SEF work?

All applications are reviewed on a case by case basis and where requests are approved we work with students to support them as fully as we can. In some instances, the fund is used to purchase items on their behalf (e.g. membership fees, fitness items, etc.) but in others we will request receipts/proof of purchase and reimburse students directly for agreed expenses (in these instances, please get in touch at to ensure expenses are agreed prior to purchase). Retrospective payments are only considered in exceptional categories.

Click here to apply to Student Engagement Fund