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I’m studying medicine, dentistry or healthcare – what higher education funding can I get in Scotland?

By David Malcolm

Monday 18 March 2013 Higher education

If you want to study for a medicine, dentistry or healthcare qualification (either an undergraduate diploma or degree), you can get funding from the government and the Scottish Government Health Directorate to help with tuition fees and living costs, depending on what you want to study and where. You can get funding if you normally live in Scotland and want to study in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK, or you’re from England, Wales or Northern Ireland and want to study in Scotland.

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Can I get higher education funding in Scotland?

To get the funding outlined below, you and your course must be eligible for it. These details are for students who normally live in Scotland, or normally live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland and want to study in Scotland. For more details about eligibility, see Can I get higher education funding in the UK?

I want to study medicine or dentistry – what funding can I get?

If you normally live in Scotland and you want to take a full-time standard five or six year medicine or dentistry undergraduate course in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK, from 2013/2014 you can get the standard package of full-time undergraduate student support that’s available from SAAS throughout your course (see What funding is available in Scotland for full-time undergraduates (or equivalent) studying in the UK?). If you’re studying elsewhere in the UK, you can apply to have your fees paid from year five.

You can also claim for any travel costs you incur while attending a practical placement – up to £10.08 each day for placements during term time and £8.57 each day for placements during the summer.

You can also get extra grants and allowances depending on your circumstances – if you’re a single parent, disabled, have an adult dependant or you’ve been in local authority care. For more information, see:

If you already have a degree and you want to take a second degree in medicine or dentistry, you may be able to get the bursary and other support summarised above for the fifth year of your second degree, but the support you get for your first four years may be reduced. However, you can’t get the bursary funding if you’re taking a four-year graduate-entry medicine or dentistry undergraduate course, and you can only get a student loan for living costs and supplementary grants each year.

For more information, see Degree courses in medicine and dentistry and Support for graduate entry courses. Also, take a look at How and when do I repay my student loan?

If you normally live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland and you want to study medicine or dentistry in Scotland, you can get your funding from the country where you normally live. For more information, see:

However, wherever you’re from, if you want to study dentistry in Scotland, you may also be able to get a bursary from the NHS in Scotland. See I want to study dentistry in Scotland – what extra funding can I get?

I want to study dentistry in Scotland – what extra funding can I get?

If you want to study for a Dentistry (BDS) degree in Scotland, you can get funding from the NHS for your course. You can get this funding if you’re a resident in Scotland, or if you’re from England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

You can get an NHS Dental Bursary of £4,000 a year. If you’re studying for your first undergraduate degree, you can get the bursary each year from the second year of your course. If you already have a degree and you’re taking a graduate-entry dentistry degree, you can get the bursary each year for all four years of your course.

In order to get the bursary you have to sign up to work full-time for NHS Scotland in dentistry for up to five years after you graduate (or the equivalent part-time period). You must complete this retention period continuously without a break. The retention period varies depending on the number of years you claim the bursary. You don’t have to pay the money back if you work for the whole of your required retention period, but you do have to repay some or all of it if you come out of the NHS before the end of your retention period.

If you’re a resident in Scotland, you can also get the full package of full-time undergraduate support you’re entitled to, and the amount of bursary you get doesn’t affect the grants and loans you can get. For more about the standard funding, see What funding is available in Scotland for full-time undergraduates (or equivalent) studying in the UK?

However, if you get your funding from Student Finance England, Wales or NI your bursary might affect how much other funding you’re entitled to. Speak to your finance provider to find out.

For more about the NHS Dental Bursary, see NHS Dental Bursary Scheme and NHS Dental Bursary - Questions and Answers.

I’m studying biomedical science in Scotland – what extra funding can I get?

If you started a biomedical science degree at a Scottish university before the beginning of the 2012/2013 academic year, you may be entitled to get a bursary of £2,000 from the NHS to help fund your placement year. It’s no longer available for more recent students. For more information, see NHS Biomedical Science Bursary.

I want to study an allied health profession subject in Scotland – what funding can I get?

From the start of the 2013/2014 academic year, new and continuing students of allied health profession (AHP) subjects in Scotland (eg physiotherapy, occupational therapy, radiography, speech and language therapy, podiatry, dietetics) get the same package of student support as other full-time undergraduates. You get the support from whoever provides your funding in the country where you normally live, so if you normally live in:

In addition, if you’re eligible, you can claim for the travel costs you incur while attending a practical placement – up to £10.08 each day for placements during term time and £8.57 each day for placements during the summer (this figure is for 2012/2013).

However, up to the start of the 2013/2014 academic year you can get funding from the Scottish Government Health Directorate to study in Scotland for your first qualification in one of the AHPs. You can get this funding if you’re a resident in Scotland, or if you’re from England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you already have a degree in another subject, you can only get the following funding for the first two years of your course – for the remaining years you can only get the loan for living costs. However, if you don’t have a degree already, you can get the following funding for the whole duration of your course (these figures are for 2012/2013):

  • Tuition fee grant: each year your tuition fees are paid directly to the university for you by SAAS. You don’t have to pay them back.
  • Bursary: each year you can get a bursary from the Scottish Government Health Directorate to help cover living costs (eg accommodation, food, books). The amount you get depends on your household income (your parents’ or partner’s income plus yours) – up to £2,455 if you live away from your parental home. You don’t get as much if you live with your parents. You can get extra payments for each week that you have to study on the course over 30 weeks and three days: £83 a week if don’t live with your parents, and less if you do. The money is paid directly to your bank account, and you don’t need to pay it back.
  • Loan for living costs: each year you can get a loan to help cover living costs from whoever provides your student funding (eg if you normally live in Scotland you get your loan from SAAS, and if you normally live in England, you get your loan from Student Finance England). The amount you can borrow doesn’t depend on your household income. You can get up to £2,330 – but you can’t borrow as much if you live at home with your parents while you study. The money is paid directly into your bank account, and you must pay it back when you’ve finished your course and you’re earning enough.
  • Travel expenses: you can claim for any travel costs you incur while attending a practical placement – up to £10.08 each day for placements during term time and £8.57 each day for placements during the summer.

You can also get extra grants and allowances depending on your circumstances – if you’re a single parent, disabled, have an adult dependant or you’ve been in local authority care. For more information, see:

For more information, see Allied Health Professions. Also, take a look at How and when do I repay my student loan?

I want to study nursing or midwifery in Scotland – what funding can I get?

You can get funding from the Scottish Government Health Directorate to study in Scotland for a diploma or honours degree in nursing or midwifery. You can get funding if you’re a resident in Scotland, or if you’re from England, Wales or Northern Ireland – even if you’ve received full funding for higher education funding before.

You can get the following for the whole duration of your full-time course (these figures are for 2012/2013):

  • Tuition fee grant: each year your tuition fees are paid directly to the university for you by SAAS. You don’t have to pay them back.
  • Bursary: each year you can get a bursary for living costs that you don’t need to pay back. The amount you get doesn’t depend on your income. If you’re taking a four year honours degree course you get the full bursary of £6,578 each year for three years, and £4,938 in your last year. If you’re taking a three year diploma course you get the full bursary for three years.
  • Initial Expenses Allowance: you get an extra £60 in your first year of study for any initial expenses. It’s included in the first instalment of your bursary, and you don’t need to pay it back.
  • Expenses: you can claim expenses for some extra travel and reasonable accommodation costs that you incur while attending a clinical placement as part of your course.

You can also get extra grants and allowances depending on your circumstances – if you’re a single parent, disabled, have an adult dependant, or you pay for childcare. For more information, see:

For more information about the bursary, see Nursing and Midwifery students. If you started your course before the 2007/2008 academic year the funding you get may be different. Contact SAAS for more information.

I want to study nursing, midwifery or an AHP subject in England or Wales – what funding can I get?

If you normally live in Scotland and you want to study subjects other than medicine or dentistry in England or Wales, the funding you can get depends on what you want to study.

If you want to study for a qualification in one of the AHP subjects, you can get the following funding for the whole duration of your course (these figures are for 2012/2013):

  • NHS bursary: each year you can get a bursary from the NHS in England or Wales to cover your tuition fees and help cover living costs (eg accommodation, food, books). You don’t need to pay it back. You get the bursary from the country in which you’re studying, eg if you’re studying in England you get funding from the NHS in England. For more information, see I’m studying medicine, dentistry or healthcare – what higher education funding can I get in England or Wales?
  • Loan for living costs: each year you can get a loan from SAAS to help cover living costs. The amount you can borrow doesn’t depend on your household income. You can get up to £2,330 – but you can’t borrow as much during your final year of study. The money is paid directly into your bank account, and you must pay it back when you’ve finished your course and you’re earning enough.

For more information, see Allied Health Professions and Nursing and Midwifery students. Also, take a look at How and when do I repay my student loan?

I want to study nursing or an AHP subject in Northern Ireland – what funding can I get?

If you normally live in Scotland and you want to study subjects other than medicine or dentistry (eg nursing or an AHP subject) in Northern Ireland, you can get the same funding as if you were studying nursing or AHP subjects in England or Wales, with these exceptions:

  • You get your bursary from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) instead of the NHS.
  • You get your loan for living costs from Student Finance NI, unless you’re studying for a degree or diploma in nursing, in which case you can’t get a loan for living costs from Student Finance NI.

For more information, see I’m studying medicine, dentistry or healthcare – what higher education funding can I get in Northern Ireland?

How do I apply for funding?

If you normally live in Scotland and want to study there, or you want to study medicine or dentistry elsewhere in the UK, you should apply for all your funding to SAAS. They deal with bursary arrangements on behalf of the Scottish Government Health Directorate as well as loans and grants. See How do I apply for higher education funding in Scotland?

However, if you want to study an AHP subject, nursing or midwifery in:

  • England, apply directly to the NHS Business Services Authority once you’ve got a place on an NHS-funded course.
  • Wales, you get an NHS bursary application pack when a university or college offers you a place on an NHS-funded course.
  • Northern Ireland, contact Student Finance NI when a university or college offers you a place on an NHS-funded course.

If you normally live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland and you want to study an AHP subject, nursing or midwifery in Scotland, you should apply to SAAS for your tuition fees grant, bursary and other grants, and for your loan for living costs apply to whoever provides it for you (eg if you normally live in England, apply to Student Finance England).

Wherever you normally live, if you’re studying for a nursing or midwifery qualification in Scotland, apply as soon as you get a letter of acceptance from your college or university. If you’re in your second or later year, apply at least six weeks before the payment is due. For more information, see Nursing and Midwifery – How do I apply?

Related topics

What higher education funding is available in Scotland?

This information was updated in March 2013. NUS provides this information in good faith and has taken care to make sure it’s accurate. However, student finance issues can be complicated, and rules change frequently. You should contact the advice centre in your students' union, college or university for support if you’re uncertain or need more help.