I searched the web to find the education funding opportunities and went along two terms similar at first sight: Bursary and Scholarship. They both are great opportunities to get your studying expenses covered if you meet the eligibility criteria. 

The lines below will navigate you through the main difference between bursary and scholarship. Also, you will find some bursaries that you can benefit from. 

Bursary vs. Scholarship 

Both bursary and scholarship are non-repayable awards to students for covering their education costs. The main difference is the reason why you can receive those awards. 

Most of the bursary vs. scholarship comparisons you will find on the web claim that scholarships are awarded to students based on their academic performance, and bursaries provide assistance considering the student's financial status. 

However, note that this difference both exists and not. Many scholarships will emphasize your academic performance as an eligibility criterion. You will submit your diplomas and transcripts when applying to them. And for most of the bursaries, you will submit documents indicating your financial status, such as family income, monthly expenses, etc. 

However, you will also meet the scholarships considering financial needs and bursaries viewing the grades. So, probably the summary of bursary vs. scholarship difference can be summarized as follows. 

Both scholarships and bursaries cover the educational expenses of students based on academic performance and financial needs. Meanwhile, scholarships are more inclined to fund students with outstanding academic performance, and bursaries are mostly prone to support students in financial need. 

Applying to a student bursary

Before you consider spending time finding and applying to bursaries, do an estimated calculation of whether your and your family's income is low enough to be funded. Bursaries tend to support students who do not have the option to pay for their education, even with parents' help. 

Among the many applicants, the bursary committee will choose the ones who need the support most. So, pre-scan the requirements before you start collecting the documents. 

Otherwise, you may spend the same time and effort to apply for the funding programs where you are more likely to succeed, such as scholarships, grants, etc. 

Before you start searching the web for bursary opportunities in your location, check your university's website. If not all educational institutions, the majority provide some financial assistance to their students via financial aid programs and bursaries. 

In contrast to bursary granting organizations, you have more chances to win the university's funding where you are admitted. Independent organizations do a wide selection, while universities are focused on their student base. 

You will already have the collected documents, which are usually the same for all bursary programs. So, you can apply to all the available bursaries. The more attempts, the higher is the probability of success. 

Note that the bursary providing organization can notify your university about their financial assistance to your studies in many cases. As a result, universities may consider you weaker eligible for financial assistance. So, it's an additional point to consider before choosing the program for applying. 

Also, carefully read the contract on what portion of your study costs the bursary will cover. They may cover the part of the full-year tuition or cover only the first years of the studies.

 It's important to construct a security mechanism for your entire study program in advance so that you are not stuck at the second year of your studies finding out the bursary resources are over, and there is not an alternative option planned in-advance. 

Bursary programs you might find useful

This section presents some bursaries and their requirements to help you better understand the bursary application process. 


The bursary aims to fund students' education, who otherwise do not have the opportunity to earn an undergraduate degree or diploma in South Africa. The bursary offers a chance to study at South African Public University or the University of Technology. 

The eligibility criteria include:

  • Citizenship of South Africa
  • Provident financial need
  • Minimum academic average of 65% for the studying year when applying to bursary
  • Minimum academic average of 65% for the main subjects required by the university you are applying
  • Letter of admission from the above mentioned two universities

UBC Bursary Program

UBC is an example of the bursary provided by the university itself. The University of British Columbia provides it to support domestic students. UBC states that its objective is to finance as many students as possible. Therefore, even if you meet all the eligibility criteria, you may still not be fully funded. 

The eligibility criteria include:

  • Citizenship of Canada, permanent residence, or refugee status in Canada
  • Enrollment in the university eligible courses
  • You should receive a full-time student loan from the Canadian Government 
  • You should have an assessed unmet financial need, which is calculated by UBC's Common Assessment Mechanism


The EY Bursary program supports the development of Chartered Accountancy. Therefore, their bursary program is meant to help students interested in the Chartered accountancy or related sphere. 

For this purpose, EY provides two bursary programs. Academic Merit with Financial Need Bursary funds tuition, accommodation, books, and meals. Academic Merit Bursary funds only a portion of tuition fees. 

To apply for the bursary, you should submit a motivation letter, academic transcripts, proof of registration, and household income. 

Million-dollar bursary program Interior Savings

The Interior Savings offer the bursary as a part of the organization's Member Rewards program. One thousand students aged 17-24 have the opportunity to receive 1000$ bursary each for their post-secondary studies. 

Interior Savings provides the bursary, it also requires the students to use the tool as their primary banking account.

Other eligibility criteria include:

  • Live in the regions of Thompson, Okanagan, or Nicola
  • Attend full-time study program at a designated post-secondary institution
  • Incur tuition of 1000$ or more within one semester

The award is given only once to the same student. 


The above examples of bursary requirements concentrate not only on the student's financial need. However, if all equal, the committee will choose those students whose financial abilities are weaker at the moment. Therefore, apply for the bursary only if your income is considered eligible by the bursary requirements.

For all other cases, spend the same time and effort to apply for scholarships, where your academic performance will play a more vital role. Our latest articles on Gates Scholarship, Visegrad Scholarship, and Chevening scholarship may help you reach your educational goals. 

Published on Feb 03, 2021