Get Incentivised for a Professional Career - dummies

Get Incentivised for a Professional Career

By Phil Davis

The UK government creates specialised packages of student finance for courses leading to careers with current shortages of professionals. This is a very deliberate attempt to try to address imbalances in the UK economy and make key careers more attractive to you as a student.

In recent years, the principle focus has been on the following professions:

  • NHS courses

  • Social work

  • Teaching

In addition, more favourable conditions for financial support are available if you study a course in veterinary science, architecture, medicine, dentistry, social work or initial teacher training. If you already hold a first degree you can access a Maintenance Loan when studying these courses. This is not usually possible due to the ‘Equivalent or Lower Qualification’ rule (which means you are expected to study at a higher level than you have previously). If you take one of these courses as a second degree you cannot access tuition fee support – you only get the Maintenance Loan (plus any targeted support applicable to you such as the Disabled Students’ Allowance and/or Dependents’ Grants).

NHS courses

Student finance for NHS courses is largely focussed on the funding available from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA). There are some handy bursary calculators available from their website.

Use the Award Estimate Calculator to find out how much NHS funding is available to you.

If you study an NHS funded course in England, you can apply to the NHSBSA for an income-assessed NHS Bursary and the non-means tested grant of £1000. In addition, you can also apply for a reduced level Maintenance Loan from Student Finance England.

The following table shows the reduced rates of loan available to NHS students.

Rate of Loan Full Year Amount Final Year Amount
Parental Home £1,744 £1,324
Elsewhere £2,324 £1,811
London £3,263 £2,498
Overseas £2,324 £1,811

A comprehensive guide on NHS bursaries is available online.

Social work

Social Work Bursaries are also available from the NHSBSA. You can find more detail about the bursary elements, together with links for all nations in this leaflet.

If you are studying an undergraduate Social Work course, you can also apply for student finance to support your studies, so ensure you apply to the funding agency where you live (for example, Student Finance England).


The National College for Teaching and Leadership offers extensive bursary packages for students studying PGCE and School Direct programmes. How much bursary you get depends on what subject you’re studying, whether you plan to teach in a primary or secondary school, and your first degree classification. Details of the bursary rates can be found online.

In addition, you can apply for the full range of financial support associated with an undergraduate degree – so you can get a Tuition Fee Loan, Maintenance Loan, and any additional funding if you have a disability, or for anyone else who is financially dependent upon you.