Tips for agriculture students on securing financial help

So you’ve decided what you are going to study and where – next comes the question of how you are going to pay for it.

While students can get loans to put towards the costs of undergraduate and postgraduate studies, it is worth investigating whether you are also eligible for any scholarships, bursaries or awards.

The good news is that there are a range of charities, show societies and commercial companies in the agricultural sector which choose to offer such awards, and the big benefit is that unlike loans this is financial support that will not need to be repaid.

Every college and university should have a list of the awards they know are on offer to their students and who might be eligible for them.

Some will be specific to a particular academic institution and course, whereas others might be open to students studying at a range of different colleges. Below we look at some of the bursaries on offer.

See also: A guide to qualification levels in agriculture

Tips

  • Check out the webpage of your college or university – most have a list of what bursaries they can offer and who to speak to if you are interested.
  • Some show societies are better than others at publicising details of bursaries. Even if there is no mention on their website, it may still be worth inquiring.
  • Be aware that you’ll need to think ahead to make sure you meet application deadlines – some can be several months before you will be due to start your studies, while others accept applications until the end of October.

For non-farmers only

The John Innes Foundation Bursary is one of the most generous bursaries on offer in that it covers the tuition fees for the full period of study – potentially worth £27,000 per student.

It’s aimed at people who wish to follow a career in primary crop production in the UK and are enrolled on a full-time, BSc (Hons) degree course in agriculture or crop production.

What’s unusual about this bursary is that applicants must not be from a farming background. They must also be from a family that is financially disadvantaged.

In addition to having their course fees paid, successful candidates are given the opportunity to work for Velcourt during their summer holidays and be considered for the Velcourt management training scheme following graduation.

They will also be mentored periodically throughout their degree by Velcourt’s technical director. The bursary is promoted at nine universities which offer a crop-based degree course.

At a postgraduate level, the Royal Agricultural University offers the Astrotracks Get in to Farming Award, which is a fee waiver worth £1,500 and is also aimed at attracting new blood into farming.

It is available to one new UK full-time student on the Graduate Diploma in Agriculture course, who must be from a non-farming background with a first degree in an unconnected subject area.

Other opportunities

NFU Mutual offers four undergraduate students a year a £3,000 bursary to help support their tuition and living costs.

Potential applicants need to be planning to study for a BSc in farm business management or agriculture.

Local organisations

A number of show societies offer bursaries to support students who live within their designated local area.

For example, each year the Melplash Agricultural Society in West Dorset offers grants to local students aged 17 and over who are planning to pursue courses in subjects connected to agriculture.

Students of agriculture, forestry, horticulture or any closely allied topic who live within a 12-mile radius of Melplash could be eligible for a bursary of up to £1,500 per year.

The Staffordshire & Birmingham Agricultural Society also invites applications for a £1,500 award from students who are either members of a Staffordshire Young Farmers Club, reside within the county of Staffordshire or are within 10 miles of the county boundary.

The Dunster Show Society offers awards of up to £1,200 for people who are resident in the district of West Somerset and are attending or accepted at a place of learning where agriculture or its related subjects form the major part of the course or study.

The Three Counties Agricultural Society Bursary, in Memory of Joe Henson MBE, is open to students who live in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire and are studying agriculture or related subjects.

The bursary supports up to a maximum of three years of study, with £1,000 provided each year to at least two students.

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