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Further Education Bursaries

A Further Education (FE) Bursary is an award made by Orkney Islands Council to help a student beyond statutory school leaving age, who is undertaking a qualifying course within or out with Orkney. It is not a loan and does not need to be paid back.

Submitting an application form is not a guarantee of support.

There is no automatic entitlement to a bursary, even where eligibility is established. There is a limited budget and awards will be issued on a first come, first served basis. Once the budget has been fully allocated then no further applications will be accepted or processed. Therefore, it is important that you get your application and all supporting documents in as soon as possible.

Note: bursaries awarded by Orkney Islands Council are provided as a contribution towards study and living costs and there may be additional costs that you will have to fund yourself.


To be eligible for a bursary, you must be:

  • Beyond statutory school leaving age and have left school.
  • Studying a full-time, non-advanced course up to a maximum level of National Certificate (NC) within or out with Orkney.
  • Able to satisfy the residential conditions contained in the Education (Access Funds) (Scotland) Determination 2013 or subsequent updates. Broadly, this means being ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom for at least 3 years before the start of your course, although some exceptions may apply depending on your circumstances. If you are moving to Orkney, you will only be eligible for a full bursary for the 2023 to 2024 academic year if you are resident in Orkney from 1 June 2023.

For full details, please refer to the Student Funding Guidance which can be downloaded in PDF format from the ‘Related Downloads’ section of this page.

Exemptions and Restrictions

In some circumstances students may be exempt from funding or have restrictions applied to any bursary they may receive. There are various reasons why this may occur and you can find full details in the Student Funding Guidance document.

Calculation of Awards

All awards are dependent on meeting the eligibility criteria outlined above and the majority will be means-tested. The exception to this is materials and travel allowances for those under the age of 18 or over 18s who are applying for fees only, which are not means-tested.

There are four main components of the FE Bursary:

  1. Maintenance Allowance

A contribution towards accommodation and living expenses.

This varies according to the student’s circumstances and age and will be means-tested.

  1. Travel Allowance

Assistance towards the cost of travel to and from college.

  • For students studying within Orkney: you may be eligible if you live at least 2 miles from Orkney College. However, since the introduction of Young Persons' Free Bus Travel Scheme in January 2022, those aged under 22 and living on the Mainland of Orkney are no longer granted a travel allowance, except in extenuating
  • An additional allowance may be allocated to students travelling from the isles.
  • For students studying outwith Orkney: you may receive an allowance covering travel from your permanent home to your term-time address to start your course, and to return to your permanent home at the end of the course, using the cheapest form of public transport. In addition to this, you may receive an allowance for return journeys between your term-time and permanent home address for each of the college's short holidays, excluding weekends, bank and public holidays.
  • For students with additional support needs: travel costs for students requiring specialist transport will be considered on an individual basis.

This allowance is means-tested for students over the age of 18.

  1. Materials Allowance

Assistance towards the cost of books, clothing and other materials, up to a maximum of £275. The actual amount will depend on the type of course you are studying. In some cases, this may be paid directly to the college rather than the student.

This allowance is means-tested for students over the age of 18.

  1. Course Fees

Orkney Islands Council will pay course fees for those aged 18 and over attending Orkney College. Those aged under 18 are eligible for Fee Waiver.

If you are studying out with Orkney then we will provide you with a fee waiver letter to give to your College, instructing them to claim the cost of your tuition fees from the Student Funding Council.

Course fees are not means-tested.

Types of Award

  • Fees only- Students aged 18 and over attending Orkney College. No allowance will be paid towards maintenance, travel or course materials.
  • Travel and Materials- Students aged 16 or 17 years old who will be living at home with parents/carers. A travel allowance may be paid if you live at least 2 miles from the College.
  • Full Bursary- All students except those under 18 years old who will be living at home with parents/carers (they should apply for Travel and Materials). A full bursary includes a maintenance allowance as well as travel and materials. The actual amount received is dependent on household income.
  • Care Experienced Bursary - Similar to a full bursary but is not means-tested. This is available to students who are 16 or above at the start of their course and have been looked after by a local authority in the UK at any point in their life. Further information about the eligible categories of care experience is available in the Student Funding Guidance from the 'Related Downloads' section of this page.

Application Forms

Applications for 2023 to 2024 are available in PDF format from the 'Related Downloads' section of this page. Ideally, you should submit your application by 31 July 2023 to ensure that funding is in place prior to the start of your course.

Application Process

You must submit a fully completed application along with the following documentation:

  • Birth certificate or passport.
  • College acceptance letter.

Depending on your individual circumstances and the type of bursary that you are applying for, you may be required to submit additional documentation, such as household income. For full details about providing proof of income and what documentation is required, please refer to the Student Funding Guidance which is available from the ‘Related Downloads’ section of this page.

Your application can take approximately 4-5 weeks to process during busy periods. If approved, you will receive an offer of award letter which you must sign and return to Orkney Islands Council. Once we have received your signed acceptance, your payments can begin, as set out in the payment schedule.


Bursaries are normally paid in 10 monthly instalments and are dependent on your attendance, conduct and progress throughout your course.

The expectation is that students should attend all their classes and attendance will be monitored on a regular basis. However, Orkney Islands Council recognise that students may need to have periods of absence and we authorise Colleges to use their discretion to determine what absences will be accepted as authorised, and their frequency, taking into account the student's wider circumstances.

Where students have unauthorised absences or have exceeded their College's policy for accepted authorised absences, the College must confirm that the student has taken reasonable steps to engage with their studies, despite being absent.

We will regularly request updates from your college on your attendance and progress prior to making any payments to you. If you have any unauthorised absences or you have not taken reasonable steps to engage with your studies then you will not receive your monthly bursary instalment.


Submission of an application form is not a guarantee of support. Bursary funds are limited and applications will continue to be processed until these funds have been fully allocated.

Applications are processed in order of the date they are received by the Education Grants team, so it is important to get your application for funding in as soon as possible. You can apply for funding as soon as you have received your acceptance letter from your chosen college.

Bursary payments can only be backdated to the start of your course if your complete application form is received within 6 weeks of your course commencing. This does not include any delays due to the need for official documentation.

Advanced or Short Courses

Part-time and short courses or courses that are above SCQF level 7 (e.g. HNC, HND, Degree, etc) are not eligible for funding from Orkney Islands Council and you should seek support from other avenues. Some suggestions have been provided below.

Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS)

SAAS are an agency of the Scottish Government giving financial support to eligible students doing a course of higher education in the UK, including undergraduate (HNC, HND, Degree, PGDE or equivalent), postgraduate or eligible nursing/midwifery courses. Please contact them for further information.

Address: Saughton House, Broomhouse Drive, Edinburgh, EH11 3UT.

Telephone: 03005550505.

You can access the SAAS website from the 'Related Sites' section of this page.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS)

SDS launched Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) which offer targeted funding focusing on those actively seeking employment and those who are currently in low paid work and looking to progress. ITAs are available to help people develop the skills they need for work, giving learners who meet the eligibility criteria up to £200 towards a single training course or training episode per year. And because it’s not a loan, the money doesn’t need to be paid back.

The local SDS office can be contacted at:

Address: 2 Albert Street, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1HP.

Telephone: 01856872460.

You can access the SDS website from the 'Related Sites' section of this page.

Contact Us

If you have any queries or would like assistance with completing your application form, contact the Education Grants Team at:

Education, Leisure and Housing, Orkney Islands Council, Council Offices, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY.

Telephone: 01856873535 extension 2416.

Email: Education Grants.

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