What Is A Bursary

What is a Bursary?

A bursary is a financial aid or scholarship that is awarded to students based on various criteria such as academic performance, financial need, or specific talents. It is a form of financial assistance that aims to support students in pursuing their education and alleviating the burden of costly tuition fees and related expenses.

Bursaries: A Path to Higher Education

In South Africa, where access to higher education can be a challenge for many due to socio-economic disparities, bursaries play a crucial role in expanding opportunities for deserving students. A bursary can enable students, who may not have otherwise afforded an education, to pursue their dreams and acquire the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their chosen fields.

Types of Bursaries

Bursaries come in various forms and are offered by various institutions, including government departments, private companies, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions. Here are a few common types of bursaries:

Merit-based Bursaries

These bursaries are awarded to students with exceptional academic achievements. They recognize and reward outstanding performance in academics and encourage students to strive for excellence in their studies.

Financial Need-based Bursaries

These bursaries are designed to provide financial support to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who may not have the means to pay for their education. Financial need is assessed based on the income and assets of the student’s household.

Subject-specific Bursaries

These bursaries are awarded to students who intend to pursue studies in specific fields or disciplines, such as engineering, medicine, or commerce. They aim to encourage students to pursue careers in industries where there is a skills shortage.

Disability Bursaries

These bursaries are specifically for students with disabilities and assist them in overcoming financial obstacles in accessing education. They are tailored to support individuals with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities in their educational journey.

Sport Bursaries

Sport bursaries are awarded to talented athletes who have demonstrated exceptional skills in a particular sport. These bursaries not only enable students to pursue higher education but also provide opportunities for them to continue their sports training and development.

What Is A Bursary

Applying for a Bursary

To apply for a bursary, students need to research available bursaries in their desired field or institution. Each bursary has its own eligibility criteria and application process, which students must carefully follow. Here are some general steps to keep in mind:

1. Research

Students should thoroughly research bursaries that align with their academic goals, field of study, and personal circumstances. They can find information about bursaries through online databases, educational institutions, career centers, or by directly contacting potential bursary providers.

2. Check Eligibility

Review the eligibility criteria for each bursary. Some bursaries may have specific requirements such as a certain grade point average, residency or citizenship, or proof of financial need. Only apply for bursaries that match your qualifications and circumstances.

3. Prepare the Application

Gather all the necessary documents and information required for the application, such as academic transcripts, recommendation letters, personal statements, and proof of income. Pay close attention to any additional requirements or deadlines specified by the bursary provider.

4. Submit the Application

Ensure that all the required documents are accurately completed and submitted within the specified deadline. Late or incomplete applications may not be considered. Some bursaries may require online applications, while others may have a manual submission process.

5. Follow Up

After submitting the application, it is essential to keep track of the application’s progress. Check for any updates or requests for additional information from the bursary provider. It is also advisable to maintain a record of all submitted applications for future reference.

The Benefits of a Bursary

Obtaining a bursary offers numerous advantages for South African students:

Financial Support

A bursary covers various expenses related to education, including tuition fees, textbooks, accommodation, and other necessary supplies. This helps reduce the financial burden on students and their families, allowing them to focus on their studies.

Increased Access to Education

Bursaries open doors to education for students who may otherwise be unable to afford it. They provide an equal opportunity for individuals from different backgrounds to pursue their academic aspirations.

Recognition of Achievements

Merit-based bursaries recognize and acknowledge students’ hard work and academic achievements. They serve as a motivation for students to continue excelling in their studies and strive for excellence.

Networking and Career Opportunities

Some bursary programs offer additional benefits such as mentorship, internships, or employment opportunities. This allows students to gain practical experience, develop their skills, and establish valuable connections within their chosen field.

Repaying “Duty” to Society

Some bursary programs require recipients to work for a specific period in a designated field or region after completing their studies. By doing so, students contribute to the development of their communities and work towards addressing skills shortages in key industries.


Bursaries are an essential tool for promoting accessibility and equity in higher education. They provide financial assistance and opportunities for students from various backgrounds to pursue their educational goals. By applying for a bursary that aligns with their aspirations, students can embark on a fulfilling educational journey, unlocking numerous benefits along the way.