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Social Work Discretionary Fund

If you are a UK Home undergraduate Social Work student and you are not in receipt of a NHS Social Work Bursary you may be eligible to apply for this fund.

Eligibility for the Social Work Discretionary Fund

The Social Work Discretionary Fund (SWDF) is a fund for UK Home undergraduate Social Work students who are not in receipt of the NHS Social Work Bursary and who meet certain criteria. Students who meet the criteria are eligible to receive a £1,000 non-repayable award to be used for course related costs.

You need to have a household income of £42,875 or below as assessed by Student Finance England, Wales, Northern Ireland or SAAS (Scotland).

You also need to fulfill any one of the following widening participation criteria:

  1. you are a care leaver
  2. you attended a below average performing school/college
  3. your home is in a neighbourhood with low participation in higher education
  4. you completed the Access to HE Diploma
  5. you or your family receive a state means-tested benefit
  6. you are irreconcilably estranged from your parent(s) or guardian(s)
  7. you are a young carer
  8. your home address is in an area of lower social mobility according to ACORN
  9. you are a refugee

You also need to be enrolled on your programme of study and actively attending (e.g. you are not currently suspended from your studies).

Repeating a year of study

If you have received the Social Work Discretionary Fund in previous years and are not in receipt of the NHS Social Work Bursary, but are having to repeat your studies for part or all of the academic year due to personal circumstances you may be eligible for an award. Repeating an academic year must be due to mitigating circumstances such as:

  • unexpected ill health
  • an existing chronic condition which has affected your ability to study
  • family bereavement
  • other mitigating circumstances

If you are required to repeat a year on academic grounds only then you would not be eligible for an award.

Applications should be supported by evidence of your mitigating circumstances, although this should be kept to the minimum necessary to verify the information provided. This could include:

  • a letter from doctor or health professional confirming the health change and when it occurred
  • confirmation from your Personal Tutor or another University academic staff member
  • other official documentary evidence as appropriate to your circumstances

How and when to apply

If you think you may be eligible for the SWDF please contact Student Money Advice for an application form.

A decision will normally be made within 4 weeks of submitting your application, provided that the application form has been fully completed.

You may be asked for clarification of details by Student Money Advice. A Funding Panel will consider applications submitted on grounds of mitigating circumstances. Applicants will be contacted via their university email account with the final decision.

You can only apply once per academic year and you will need to make a new SWDF application for each academic year, subject to eligibility and funds available. This is a discretionary fund and therefore students do not have an entitlement to receive an award. In addition, the SWDF is limited in its available funds and so not all applications may be successful. There is no right of appeal and the University’s decision is final in relation to your eligibility and entitlement

If you do not meet the criteria but feel that you need financial assistance we would encourage you to make an application to the University Hardship Fund.


If you have any questions, please contact us.