If you’re an athlete looking to propel your sports career while simultaneously pursuing a career or education, then the United Kingdom offers a range of opportunities for you to succeed in both. A scholarship is a form of financial aid or award given to students to support their education. Scholarships are usually awarded based upon various criteria, which are often reflective of the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award. This aid does not have to be repaid by the student or nominee, unlike loans.
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Criteria for scholarships can include academic or athletic performance, interest in a certain subject, work or volunteer work. Some scholarships also require the recipients to meet certain criteria, such as achieving a certain grade, ranking in their sport or belonging to a particular demographic, ethnic group or residing in a certain area.
There are a plethora of scholarships available across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, that can put you on the path to sporting success.
Types of Sports Scholarships in the United Kingdom
Sports scholarships in the UK are designed to support talented athletes in balancing their educational and training commitments. The country offers a vast array of scholarships in various sports, ranging from mainstream disciplines like football, rugby, and cricket, to niche sports such as rowing, hockey, and even equestrian.
A flagship scholarship initiative in the UK is the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS). TASS supports dual-career athletes, helping them to achieve their academic potential alongside succeeding in their sports discipline. TASS is delivered by Service Delivery Sites which are regional hubs offering expert services, such as physiotherapy, strength and conditioning, psychology, nutrition advice, and lifestyle support.
TASS scholarships can be given to any dual career athletes and focus on the wrap around support. Athletes who are students, in the workforce, on apprenticeships and in the armed forces may be eligible. Though the athletes will perform to a high level, they do not offer these once athletes are on professional contracts.
University Sports Scholarships
In the United Kingdom there are over 160 universities and over 40 universities offer sports scholarships to prospective undergraduate or postgraduate students. Universities usually offer a tiered packaged (e.g. Bronze, Silver, Gold or similar) for sports scholarships and tend to be dual career accredited through TASS (which ensures they are offering the minimum standard of support for athletes including academic flexibility, promoting clean sport and support services such as lifestyle, physio, nutrition etc.). Many offer some cash incentives for applicants too.
Sports Scholarships at College
In the United Kingdom, college is generally for those aged 16-19 years, though mature students can also attend. Additionally some of the colleges may also offer university degrees that are awarded by themselves or partner universities.
There are 277 colleges in the UK and approx 60 of these offer some sort of scholarship. Similar to the above most colleges will offer a range of support services, however very few offer financial incentives in comparison and the offer is generally on a smaller scale (though not always).
For universities and college scholarships don’t forget you will usually be required to compete on their British Universities and College Sports (BUC’s) team.
Teams Sports Scholarships
In the sphere of specific sports scholarships, there are numerous opportunities for athletes, such as the Royal & Ancient Golf Club Scholarship for talented golfers, the Premier League Football Scholarships for footballers, and the Rugby Football Union’s student bursaries for rugby players. Each of these provides unique support and opportunities, tailored to the needs of athletes within those sports.
Another programme is the Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DiSE). Focused on sports such as football, rugby, cricket and more, DiSE provides young athletes aged 16-19 with a comprehensive development programme, combining education with practical training and competition.
Notably, there are sports scholarships available for members of the armed forces. These scholarships, which can provide financial aid, academic flexibility and professional development, support individuals who wish to pursue a dual career in sports and military service.
How to Find Scholarships for Sport in the UK?
Finding a sports scholarship in the UK requires some research and persistence. Start by looking at universities and colleges renowned for their sports programmes. Websites of the educational institutions typically provide comprehensive information on the scholarships they offer.
- Additionally, organisations such as Sports Scholarships UK and UK Sport offer an extensive list of scholarships.
- Check for local council websites in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, as they might have information on region-specific sports scholarships.
- Check out our comparison of University Scholarships for more information and a breakdown of what they offer.
Benefits of Sports Scholarships in the UK
Scholarships are usually associated with excellence in your sport. Though there are many options for scholarship around the UK, each offer has a limit on how many packages are available. Therefore securing a scholarship is something you may want to include on your C.V. highlighting your dedication and achievement in your sport.
Having a scholarship in the UK provides several unique advantages for scholarship athletes. Its National Health Service (NHS) offers universal healthcare, relieving financial pressures that can arise from sports injuries. Proximity to Europe enables athletes to participate in international competitions without significant travel challenges. Plus, the country is home to many world-class sports facilities and coaches, enhancing athletes’ performance and growth.
What to Expect In A Typical Scholarship Package
Sports scholarships in the UK offer more than just financial support. They may include access to state-of-the-art training facilities, comprehensive support services such as physiotherapy and sports science, and equipment provision. Moreover, they can cover work or academic support to ensure athletes manage their dual career effectively.
So how can a sports scholarship in the UK help you as an athlete?
The benefits are numerous:
- Financial Support: Scholarships often cover tuition fees and provide a living allowance, reducing the financial burden on athletes and their families.
- Access to top facilities and coaches: Scholarships usually provide access to high-quality training facilities and world-class coaches.
- Balancing Sport and Education: With academic flexibility and support, athletes can excel in their sport without sacrificing their education.
- Broaden Networks: Athletes can connect with fellow sportsmen and women, creating a valuable network for their future careers.
- CV Enhancement: A scholarship is an accomplishment that adds value to your CV, demonstrating your dedication and skill in your sport.
Where can you find sports scholarships in the UK?
It requires some research and persistence. Start with universities and colleges renowned for their sports programmes.
Websites of educational institutions typically provide comprehensive information on their scholarship offerings.
Additionally, organisations such as UK Sports Scholarships and UK Sport offer extensive lists of scholarships.
Local council websites may have information on region-specific sports scholarships.
Top Tips To Increase Your Chances Of Getting a Scholarship
Securing a sports scholarship can be highly competitive. Here are some tips to help:
- Evidence of Performance: Ensure you have a comprehensive portfolio showcasing your sports achievements. This could include videos of your performance, commendations, or statistics that highlight your skills.
- Team Spirit: Universities and sponsors want athletes who contribute to their team. Show willingness to compete not just for yourself, but for your team, college or university.
- Partner with Sponsors: Partnering with a sponsor can increase your chances of getting a scholarship. Sponsors often have connections with universities and colleges, and a recommendation from them can strengthen your application.
- Plan Ahead: Most scholarships have a limited number of places. Universities may have anywhere from 10 – 100 places available each year and may place focus on particular sports.TASS and privately funded scholarships all typically have higher numbers but they are spread across the U.K. For instance, TASS has recently increased their places to around 800 athletes (This used to be 400 per year but now the athletes who are performing and working well with both their teams, governing bodies and the centre of delivery will roll over to the following year). It sounds obvious but research, speak with coaches and team management and find who the nominations come from. If you are coming from overseas, then you need to make sure you have as much in place to increase the likelihood of acceptance.
- Keep yourself well so you can perform – This one sounds obvious, but ensuring you keep up with your training in and out of season, eat well, manage your recovery and remain injury free is imperative when trying to secure your place on a scholarship.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get sports scholarships in the United Kingdom?
Yes, numerous universities and colleges across the UK offer sports scholarships to talented athletes.
Which sports can be on sports scholarships?
Almost every sport you can think of can lead to a sports scholarship, including football, rugby, cricket, hockey, rowing, and equestrian sports, among others. Over recent years scholarships have opened up to more and more sports, including para sport and niche disciplines.
Check the websites of the organisations or institutions that offer these scholarships, many have focal sports that they have a history with or partnerships to develop.
How do I apply for a TASS scholarship?
TASS does not accept direct applications from individual athletes. Athletes are nominated by the National Governing Bodies of their sport, in liaison with TASS. So, to be considered for TASS support, contact your sport’s National Governing Body.
Pursuing a sports scholarship in the UK can be a game-changer, offering the unique opportunity to develop athletically while gaining a quality education. With the right information, determination, and commitment, your dream of becoming a scholarship athlete in the UK could become a reality. Good luck on your journey!
A comprehensive comparison of university scholarship packages