The NHS bursary – or similar – can help you financially when starting a career as a nurse, doctor, dentist or allied health professional.
- England: Healthcare degree apprenticeships
The NHS bursary originally funded students on healthcare degrees across the UK, but reforms led to a patchwork of financial support in different nations. Our guide shows the current financial support for a career in nursing, or as an allied health professional, doctor or dentist in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
Where you live
The funding is for UK residents, and usually depends on the nation where you 'ordinarily live'. However, you may be able to study in a different UK nation and access extra financial support. Options for this are outlined under each nation below.
EU students (for courses starting in 2020–21)
If you're an EU student who's already a resident in the UK, you may be eligible for an NHS bursary or other healthcare funding on the same basis as UK students. Undergraduate EU students from outside the UK may be able to apply for a tuition fee loan – contact the student finance body in the nation you intend to study in.
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- Are you eligible for student finance?
Check whether you're being offered an NHS-funded or eligible place with your course provider.
All means-tested finance will depend on your household income. Household means your parents if you're a dependent student, or your partner or spouse for independent students (if you have one). If you prefer not to give your household income, you may still be eligible for non-means-tested support.
Even if an NHS bursary is offered, you may also need a maintenance loan. This may be a 'reduced loan' and the amount available in your final year will be lower.
You may be eligible for extra help if you're a parent, support someone who depends on you financially, or are disabled. You won't have to repay this money unless you're overpaid.
Dependents Allowance is for students who financially support another adult or child – the amount will be based on any income your dependent has.
Childcare Allowance (means-tested) helps towards childcare costs for children in registered or approved childcare. Up to 85% of the cost may be paid up to a set limit, and you can't get financial support if you get childcare funding from any other source, or your child is eligible for a free early education place or looked after by a relative.
If you're eligible for the Dependents Allowance for a child, you may get a Parents' Learning Allowance.
If you have a long-term physical or mental health condition, learning difference (like dyslexia) or physical disability, you may be eligible for the Disabled Students' Allowance. The amount is based on your needs, not your income.
If you're on a funded course where you apply for these grants, the amount of financial support available may differ.
Travel expenses for clinical practice placements
If you're on an NHS- or government-funded place you may be able to claim travel expenses for clinical placements, where these are over and above the normal cost of travel to university. This may include accommodation, if approved, up to a daily limit.
Students on nursing, midwifery or allied health profession courses in England can apply for travel expenses from the Learning Support Fund.
Medical or dental students on clinical placements in non-NHS bursary funded years can apply for a travel grant. In NHS bursary funded years, this changes to Practice Placement Expenses claimed via the NHS.
Students who get Disabled Students' Allowances can only apply for the refund of travel costs not met by their DSA support.
Changes in your circumstances
Update your funder about any change in your personal circumstances to avoid overpayments, as you'll have to repay these.
For UK-resident students studying at English universities, NHS funding support is provided by the Learning Support Fund. In February 2020, the government confirmed extra financial support for nursing and midwifery students and many allied health profession students. Students from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland taking an eligible pre-registration healthcare course may qualify for extra grants, including a new £5,000 annual training grant. The new funding will be available from September 2020.
The funding applies to current students as well as new students (whether undergraduate or graduate) in these disciplines:
- Dental hygiene or dental therapy (level 5 and level 6 courses)
- Nursing (adult, child, mental health, learning disability, joint nursing/social work)
- Occupational therapy
- Operating department practitioner (level 5 and level 6 courses)
- Orthotics and prosthetics
- Podiatry or chiropody
- Radiography (diagnostic and therapeutic)
- Speech and language therapy
Undergraduate students who study part-time can get the support pro-rata.
Applying for student finance
To access the Learning Support Fund, you must be eligible for both tuition fee and maintenance support loans. As teaching years on healthcare courses are usually longer than a standard degree, students may be able to get additional weeks' funding (a long course loan).
If you already have a degree – as long as it isn't in a related subject – you may be able to get support from the Learning Support Fund. Graduates from England studying full-time on the courses above – except paramedicine – can apply for undergraduate student finance, including a tuition fee loan. Graduates from other nations should contact their student finance body to check if they can get loan support.
Although graduates studying paramedicine may not be able to get a loan, FAQ guidance from the NHS states that postgraduate students will be eligible for the new training grant funding of up to £5,000 per year.
EU students who meet the criteria for UK-resident students, including having a maintenance loan, may also apply to the Learning Support Fund.
The Learning Support Fund gives extra financial support under the categories below. You won't have to repay this money unless your circumstances change and you're overpaid. Contact the NHS Business Services Authority within one month to let them know of any changes.
£5,000 each year for all new and continuing students. You'll need to apply for this each year.
Specialist subject payment
£1,000 per year awarded automatically to new students studying a ‘shortage specialism’ once you’ve applied for the training grant. The shortage specialisms are:
- Mental health nursing
- Learning disability nursing
- Radiography (diagnostic and therapeutic)
- Prosthetics and orthotics
- Orthoptics and podiatry
£1,000 awarded automatically to new students once you’ve applied for the training grant. Eligible regions are still to be confirmed.
£2,000 annual grant for students who are parents responsible for a child. The grant is pro-rata for part-time students and doesn’t affect your entitlement to childcare allowance.
This reimburses additional expenses from clinical practice placements. You'll only receive travel expenses above your normal cost of getting to university. You're expected to use the cheapest form of transport feasible. If you're driving, this can include toll roads and parking. If you get a lift, you can't claim expenses – but you can if you cycle!
There are capped daily rates for accommodation if it isn't practical for you to travel from your normal term-time residence to your placement. You won't get this if staying with your parents.
If you're required to study abroad for part of your course, you may be able to apply for the cost of medical insurance, tests and visa fees to be reimbursed.
Applications are submitted after the expenses have been incurred, but no later than nine months after. Receipts must be included, and your university must authorise your form.
Exceptional support fund
This fund provides means-tested support for students whose income isn't enough to meet their expenses despite careful budgeting.
You can get up to £3,000 each academic year. You must have accessed all other sources of available income, i.e. savings, part-time or holiday work, or additional household support, and have applied to university hardship funds or other income sources. If you're rejected by these sources, you can still apply to the Exceptional Support Fund.
The fund doesn't cover unexpected emergency costs such as repairs or stolen items.
Applications can be made at any time in the academic year. You'll need to supply evidence, such as bank statements for yourself and for your partner if you have one. Your application must be authorised by your university. You can apply more than once within the academic year.
Applying to the Learning Support Fund
The NHS Business Services Authority has detailed guidance on the Learning Support Fund. To apply, you must first register on the Learning Support Fund (LSF) Application System to create an online account. You can then apply to one of the funds – you’ll need to apply each year. To apply, send a copy of your full student loan notification letter along with any other evidence required.
If you're a resident in England but want to study elsewhere in the UK
If you're an English resident and want to study nursing, midwifery or an allied health profession course elsewhere in the UK, you can apply to Student Finance England for a student loan.
If you study in Wales, you can access the NHS Wales bursary as long as you commit to working for NHS Wales for two years after the end of your course. The list of allied health profession courses funded in Wales differs from the one listed above.
In Northern Ireland, funded places are reserved for students who've lived in Northern Ireland for three years before the start of their course.
In Scotland, the Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary (NMSB) is only available to Scottish residents.
In England, an alternative for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals is a degree apprenticeship. These are funded by employers and run in partnership with the university or college, where students study part-time. Standards are set and approved for each subject by training and professional bodies.
Unlike a degree, they're only available when advertised by the employer, so may be harder to track down and competition for places may be tough.
Degree apprenticeship standards have been drawn up for a range of roles, including:
- Arts therapist
- Diagnostic radiographer
- Occupational therapist
- Operating department practitioner
- Speech and language therapist
- Therapeutic radiographer
While the standards have been approved, it may take some time for employers to offer the programmes. You can find out more about healthcare apprenticeships on healthcareers.nhs.uk.
In England, vacancies will usually be advertised on the NHS Jobs website or the government's Find An Apprenticeship website. Nursing degree apprenticeships are already offered by some health boards. To apply, you may already need to be employed full-time in a relevant role – check the situation for your local health board. Those who've completed a lower level nursing apprenticeship (such as assistant practitioner) may be able to progress to a higher or degree level programme to top up their qualification.
If you're from England, you can study medicine and dentistry anywhere in the UK and still be eligible for an NHS bursary from England for part of the course. If you study dentistry in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply for Scotland's Dental Student Support Grant.
NHS bursary funding for medical and dental students in England
Undergraduates can apply for an NHS bursary from the fifth year of study on a five- or six-year course. Before then, you’ll need to apply to Student Finance England for a student loan for your tuition fees and living costs.
Graduates can apply for an NHS bursary from the second year of a three- or four-year accelerated degree. In the first year, you must self-fund some of the tuition fees. You may apply for a tuition fee loan towards the remaining tuition fees and can also apply for a maintenance loan from the first year – although in NHS bursary-funded years this will be capped at a reduced rate.
Graduates on a standard undergraduate medical or dental course may be eligible for an NHS bursary from year five of study. For the previous years, you're not normally eligible for any tuition fee loans but can apply for a maintenance loan and any associated allowances.
What financial support do medical and dental students get in England?
In NHS bursary-funded years, you may receive payment of your tuition fees, a means-tested bursary and a non-means-tested grant of £1,000 a year.
In eligible years, undergraduate tuition fees are paid by the NHS. If tuition fees are higher than the standard level, you'll need to pay the difference or apply for a tuition fee loan from Student Finance England.
In 2019–20, students living in London could get a bursary of up to £3,191; outside London, up to £2,643; or living in their parental home, £2,207. What you can get will reduce for household incomes above £24,279. These amounts are for the standard academic year. Additional weeks are awarded at £108 (London), £84 (outside London) and £56 (living with your parents) per week.
As well as supplementary grants and travel expenses, NHS bursary students can get support from an NHS hardship grant for medical and dental students. Up to £3,000 may be awarded to those eligible for a means-tested bursary who are facing financial hardship. You'll need to show how you've been managing your finances and must have applied for all possible financial support, including student loans and university hardship funds.
Along with the NHS bursary, students can apply for a reduced rate maintenance loan to supplement your income: in 2020–21, £3,451 in London, £2,458 outside London and £1,845 for home. For those studying abroad for part of their course, it's £2,458.
For detailed guidance, refer to the NHS Business Services Authority.
Applying for an NHS bursary from England
Apply only for the years you're eligible to receive an NHS bursary. Applications open from March and close two months before courses begin. Go to the NHS Business Services Authority website, where you create an account on the Bursary Online Support System (BOSS). You'll need photographic ID. After submitting your application, an email will inform you if other supporting evidence is needed. Our subject tables can help you with choosing a university.
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- Student finance and funding
Rather than the NHS bursary, Northern Ireland has commissioned places on nursing or midwifery first-degree courses. These are reserved for Northern Ireland-resident undergraduates or those from the EU. If you're from England, Scotland or Wales, you're not eligible for a commissioned place unless you've lived in Northern Ireland for three consecutive years before the start of the course.
What financial support do nursing and midwifery students get in Northern Ireland?
If you're from Northern Ireland and studying nursing or midwifery, you can have your tuition fees paid by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.
The personal element of the bursary is not means-tested. There's also a dependents' element, some of which may be means-tested.
As well as grants, you can apply for emergency support from the Student Support Fund if you find yourself in severe financial hardship.
If you've a commissioned place, you're ineligible for a maintenance loan.
Applying for a commissioned nursing or midwifery place
You can apply to your university of choice for a commissioned place. If you're accepted, your university will link you with the Bursary Administration Unit. You'll be sent an application pack two weeks before the start of your course.
If you're a resident in Northern Ireland but want to study elsewhere in the UK
If you're from Northern Ireland but studying elsewhere in the UK, you can apply for a student loan from Student Finance Northern Ireland. If you study in Wales and commit to working for NHS Wales for two years after your course, you can access the NHS Wales bursary. If you study in England, you may be eligible for support from the Learning Support Fund. In Scotland, the Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary (NMSB) is only available to Scottish residents.
If you're from Northern Ireland and taking an eligible allied health profession first degree there, you can get support from the Department of Health (DoH).
Approved courses include:
- Occupational therapy
- Speech and language therapy
What financial support do allied health profession students get in Northern Ireland?
Allied health profession students have their tuition fees paid by the Department of Health (DoH) in Northern Ireland. There's also a bursary based on household income.
Students can also apply for a reduced rate of maintenance loan, which isn't means-tested. Students living at home can get £1,780, while students in lodgings are eligible for £2,370.
Applying for financial support on a commissioned allied health profession place
Student Finance Northern Ireland (SFNI) administer the bursaries for the Department of Health. Contact them for further information on the level of bursaries available.
If you're a resident in Northern Ireland but want to study elsewhere in the UK
Undergraduates from Northern Ireland can choose to study elsewhere in the UK and still get a student loan from Student Finance Northern Ireland. If your course is in Wales and you’re prepared to work for NHS Wales for two years after your course, you can access the NHS Wales bursary. If you study in England, you may be eligible for support from the Learning Support Fund. There's no extra funding if you study in Scotland.
Instead of an NHS bursary, Northern Ireland's Department of Health (DoH) funds part of the course for medical or dental students. This applies for degree courses anywhere in the UK. Dentistry students who study in Scotland may be eligible to apply for Scotland's Dental Student Support Grant. If you're studying in the Republic of Ireland (RoI), you should apply for student finance including a student contribution fee loan for each year of the course.
If you're on a first degree, you’ll need to apply to SFNI for student finance for the first years of your course, as the bursary is normally paid from year five of your studies. If you choose to complete an intercalated degree (where you suspend your main course for a year to complete a second qualification), the funding for that year will depend on which year you do this and the level of intercalated degree.
If you're a graduate starting a second primary degree in medicine or dentistry, you're not eligible for a DoH bursary. You can apply for student finance but you'll need to self-fund your tuition fees (or student contribution fee in the Republic of Ireland) for the duration of the course.
Department of Health bursary for medical and dental students in Northern Ireland
In a bursary-funded year, tuition fees are paid by the Department of Health. The bursary is means-tested and the amount decreases if you're living at home, or increases if living in lodgings. You can apply for supplementary grants and travel expenses as well.
In a bursary-funded year, you can also apply for a reduced amount of a non-means-tested maintenance loan. The amount is lower for final-year students.
Applying for a DoH bursary from Northern Ireland
Applications for funding are all made to SFNI for all years, as they administer the DoH bursary.
Rather than the NHS Bursary, if you're a Scottish resident studying nursing or midwifery full-time at a Scottish university, you're eligible for the Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary scheme (NMSB) administered by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).
Eligible courses include degree, honours and master's level study leading to registration as a nurse or midwife. If you haven’t previously studied nursing or midwifery, as a graduate you may be eligible for the NMSB.
What financial support do nursing and midwifery students get in Scotland?
The Scottish Government Health Directorate (SGHD) pays tuition fees for Scottish students on pre-registration courses. Graduates may need to check with SAAS whether their fees will be covered.
The bursary of £10,000 per year isn't means-tested and funding covers the whole year (52 weeks). If you're studying an honours degree, you'll get 75% of the bursary in your fourth year, but in your first year there's a £60 Initial Expenses Allowance. If you receive a bursary, you're ineligible for a maintenance loan.
You can also claim for supplementary grants: Dependents Allowances, Single Parents’ Allowance and Child Care Allowance.
The bursary includes £5 for daily travel but placement expenses exceeding this may be claimed. You're expected to use the cheapest public transport. If travel costs are over £30 per day, you should stay in local accommodation if possible.
The Nursing and Midwifery Discretionary Fund is available for students in severe financial hardship and is applied for through your university. This is also available to nursing students from elsewhere in the UK who aren’t entitled to the Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary.
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- Repaying your student loan
Applying for financial support on a nursing or midwifery course in Scotland
Applications are made via SAAS. You can apply for the NMSB bursary online in spring each year (no later than June). Some additional support funds may need annual evidence of your eligibility.
If you're a resident in Scotland but want to study elsewhere in the UK
If you want to study nursing elsewhere in the UK, you can apply to SAAS for student finance, including a tuition fee loan.
If you study in Wales, you can also consider the NHS Wales bursary if you're willing to work for NHS Wales for two years after graduation.
If you study in England on an eligible course, you may be able to get extra financial help from the Learning Support Fund. From September 2020, this includes the new funding announced by the UK Government in 2019.
In Northern Ireland, nursing and midwifery places are reserved for students who are residents in Northern Ireland or the EU.
In Scotland, there's no NHS bursary for allied health profession students. However, if you already have a degree, you may be able to apply for a student loan.
Undergraduates are eligible for the normal student finance and can apply to the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) to cover their tuition fees and for a maintenance loan for living costs.
Graduates following a full undergraduate AHP course in Scotland can apply for undergraduate funding in year one and two. After this, you're only eligible for means-tested maintenance loans and grants, so you'd need to pay your tuition fees. Graduates on accelerated courses have to self-fund their tuition fees.
Eligible AHP courses include:
- Diagnostic imaging (degree only)
- Dietetics, or nutrition and dietetics
- Occupational therapy
- Podiatry (chiropody)
- Orthotics, prosthetics, or prosthetics and orthotics
- Radiography, or radiography and oncology
- Speech and language therapy, or speech and language pathology
- Therapeutic or diagnostic radiography
What other financial support do allied health profession students get in Scotland?
AHP students can claim the cost of travel to clinical practice placements taken in Scotland, but only for amounts above their normal travel to and from university. You should use public transport as car mileage is paid only in exceptional circumstances. If travel is likely to cost more than £30 per day, local accommodation may be arranged. You must submit receipts for all expenses.
If you're a resident in Scotland but want to study elsewhere in the UK
You can apply to SAAS for a tuition fee loan, maintenance loan and living cost grants if applicable. Graduates can only apply for a means-tested living cost loan and grants, but you'll need to self-fund your tuition fees.
If you study in Wales, you can also consider the NHS Wales bursary if you're willing to work for NHS Wales for two years after graduation. Those who study an eligible course in England may be able to get extra financial help from the Learning Support Fund. This includes new financial support recently announced by the UK Government, which comes into effect from September 2020.
There's no NHS bursary for Scottish-resident medical or dental students – you’ll need to apply to SAAS for a student loan. For tuition fees, what you get will depend on where you study your course.
If you study in Scotland, SAAS will pay all tuition fees for a standard five-year course. However, medicine at the University of St Andrews is a three-year course where you must change university to complete the clinical years. If you move to a university outside Scotland, you'll need to apply for a tuition fee loan for your fourth year, and in years five and six apply to SAAS to have your tuition fees paid in full.
If you study elsewhere in the UK, you need to apply to SAAS for a tuition fee loan for the first four years of your course. From year five, you can apply to SAAS for full payment of your tuition fees.
If you're a graduate studying medicine or dentistry as a second degree, you may be eligible for some support under 'previous study' rules. You can also apply for full support from the fifth year of your course, including payment of tuition fees. But if you're on an accelerated course, you'll have to self-fund your tuition fees.
The Dental Student Support Grant (DSSG) is for any student studying a Bachelor of Dental Surgery at Aberdeen, Dundee or Glasgow University with an annual household income below £34,000. Students at Aberdeen can apply from their first year and students at Glasgow or Dundee can apply from their second year.
To get DSSG, you must be able to work for NHS Scotland after graduation for as many years as you've received funding. If you fail to do so or withdraw from your course, you must repay your grant.
If you're an international student, you can apply for DSSG if you're eligible to live and work in Scotland after graduation.
You’ll need to apply for DSSG through your university each year before the end of December. UK-resident students can apply for a student loan as well.
In June 2019, the Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services announced funding under the NHS Wales Bursary to be extended until 2020–21. This NHS bursary is for all UK-resident students studying an eligible healthcare course in Wales, including graduates who already have a degree. To get the bursary, you must commit to working with NHS Wales for two years after your course (or less if on a two-year course).
Eligible courses include:
- Nursing and midwifery
- Chiropodists and podiatrists
- Dental hygienists and dental therapists
- Healthcare scientists
- Occupational therapists
- Speech and language therapists
If you're a UK-resident taking a health education course in Wales, you must register on the Welsh Health Education Registration System. This includes undergraduates who don’t want to commit to working for NHS Wales – if you don't register, you won't be able to apply for a full student loan.
If you're an EU national, you may apply to have your tuition fees funded if you commit to working for NHS Wales for two years after your course, but you'll need to pay for all other costs.
Financial support for nursing, midwifery or allied health profession students in Wales
NHS Wales will pay your tuition fees. You'll receive a grant of £1,000 and a means-tested bursary that's reduced for incomes above £24,279. You'll get more if you're living independently than if you're living with your parents. If your course is longer than 30 weeks, you'll get an additional allowance of up to £84 per week.
If applicable, you can claim supplementary grants.
If you're an undergraduate with an NHS bursary, you may be eligible for a reduced student loan. You should apply via the Student Finance body for your nation before the start of your course to see if you're eligible. If you're a graduate, you can't apply for a student loan even if you get the NHS Wales bursary.
Applying for financial support on a nursing, midwifery or allied health profession course in Wales
You need to apply for the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme as soon as you've accepted a place at university as there's a set number of training places. The last date to apply for the NHS bursary is ten weeks after starting the course. No applications will be accepted after this time.
If you agree to work for NHS Wales after your course and fail to do so, you must repay all or part of the bursary. You'll also need to repay if you choose not to continue the course, unless you've arranged to transfer to another NHS-Wales funded course.
If you're a resident in Wales but want to study elsewhere in the UK
If you want to study a nursing, midwifery or allied health profession course elsewhere in the UK, you should apply for student finance from Student Finance Wales.
Those studying in England on an eligible course may be able to get support from the Learning Support Fund. This includes the new funding outlined by the UK Government in 2019, which comes into effect from September 2020.
Places on courses in Northern Ireland are reserved for students resident in Northern Ireland, with a few exceptions for allied health profession courses (these don't confer any additional funding).
In Scotland, only those who ordinarily live there are eligible for the Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary (NMSB).
An NHS bursary is available to Welsh-resident students on medical or dental degrees in the UK for part of the course. You don't need to work for NHS Wales after the completion of your course. Dentistry students who study in Scotland may be eligible to apply for Scotland's Dental Student Support Grant.
As an undergraduate, you can apply for an NHS bursary for the fifth year of a five- or six-year course. Before this, you should apply to Student Finance Wales (SFW) for help with tuition fees and living costs.
As a graduate, you can apply for an NHS bursary from the second year of a graduate-entry accelerated degree. In the first year, you must self-fund some of the tuition fees but you can apply for a tuition fee loan towards the remainder. You may also apply for a maintenance loan.
If you're a graduate on a standard undergraduate medical or dental course, you may be eligible for an NHS bursary from year five. The previous years aren't normally eligible for any tuition fee loans, but you can apply for a maintenance loan and any associated allowances.
Welsh-resident students also get the Welsh Government Learning Grant.
What financial support does the NHS bursary give to medical and dental students from Wales?
NHS bursary support usually includes the payment of your tuition fees (up to the standard level), a means-tested bursary and a non-means-tested grant.
If you're an undergraduate, your tuition fees will be paid by NHS Wales in NHS-bursary funded years. If you're on a graduate-entry course, the NHS pays the first £3,465 of tuition fees and you can apply for a loan of up to £5,785 to cover the difference.
The bursary is means-tested and reduced for incomes above £24,279. If your course is longer than 30 weeks, additional funding provides up to £84 per week.
You can also get a non-means-tested grant of £1,000 per year. If applicable, you can claim supplementary grants and travel expenses too.
If you're eligible for an NHS bursary, you can apply for a reduced amount of maintenance loan. This goes up in increments depending on whether you're living with your parents, or outside or inside of London.
Applying for an NHS bursary from Wales
If you're a medical or dental student from Wales, you should only apply for an NHS bursary in the year you're eligible, via the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme.
If an NHS bursary isn't available for your course, check whether you can get other financial support.
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- University bursaries and scholarships
Royal College of Nursing produces the Student Money Guide, which lists some charitable funds such as the Cavell Nurses Trust and RCN Lamplight Support Services Organisation.
If you're studying an allied health profession degree, check to see if professional bodies recommend sources of funding for students starting their career.
For medics and nurses, an army career may be an option if you're willing to work in the Armed Forces for a number of years (competition for places is fierce).
There are also awards and competitions, and universities may offer bursaries to those on low incomes.