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Bursaries are grants given to students from financial institutions, national, provincial or local government, national or multinational corporations, trusts, educational institutions, or religious organisations.

They include terms via which students have to pay them back, usually with interest.

Generally, students have to qualify for bursaries on terms of merit or need.

Repayment is often made by working for the organisation once the beneficiary has qualified (according to a pre-agreed ratio, for example, one year study = one year work).

How do bursaries differ from scholarships?

Scholarships tend to be purely merit-based and assist only with fees, while bursaries often come from a business organisation and cover tuition, books, living expenses and accommodation.

Recipients of scholarships are not required to pay them back.

Another type of bursary is a donor bursary this is awarded to a deserving candidate in a specific field of study or in recognition for his/her work in a specific field of study.

What happens if I want to leave and go to another employer?

Some students repay their bursaries personally, while others find new employers to buy their previous bursars out.

How do I find a bursar?

Search for companies offering bursaries online via Google – you’ll find businesses (usually multinationals) that will sponsor students, often merit-based, for people with an interest in the same business/skills.

You can also get bursaries organised by religious organisations or charities, whereby someone has left a bequest with terms and conditions.

For example, if it’s offered by a Christian organisation, then you may have to belong to that Faith, or they may be gender or language specific.

If you don’t have frequent access to the internet, visit your local library.

Ask your librarian for books listing annual bursaries in your field of study.

You can also approach your municipality and enquire about bursary information; for example, the City of Cape Town runs bursaries for careers that they find hard to recruit for.

This is important when searching for bursaries: apply for those that you’re qualified for, as most bursaries are open to the public, and are hotly sought-after.

I can’t afford to fund my children’s studies, can I ask my employers to sponsor them?

Many employers do offer education bursaries to children of their employees, but they’ll usually require that the child has good academic results.

Your child’s field of study does not always need to relate to what your boss’s business does, although this is often an incentive.

How do I find out what the terms and conditions for my bursary repayment will be?

Bursary repayments differ for each bursary, and you’ll need to read your contract carefully before you agree to be sponsored to study at college or university.

Search carefully and in a number of areas for the most suitable partnership between company and bursary before you apply.

Very occasionally you can find a business association that will run bursaries, for example, the interior design association – they may have a bursary programme that offers bursaries annually or the institute of people management may have an HR bursary that they offer on a regular basis.

Being successful in your search for bursaries is a case of looking in the right places, and applying with the right mix of openness and competence.

Click Here to Current Bursary Opportunities

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