Allocations methodology for the 16 to 19 Discretionary Bursary fund

Closed 23 May 2019

Opened 28 Feb 2019


We are seeking views on proposals to change the methodology for the 16 to 19 discretionary bursary fund allocations.

Why we are consulting

We need to ensure the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund is targeted at those who most need it.  Colleges, schools and other education and training providers set their own policies for awarding discretionary bursaries, identifying the young people who need financial support, and distributing the funding to them, following national guidance.  Providers know to focus the funding towards their students who would not be able to stay in education without financial help for things such as travel, essential course equipment or books. 

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) currently calculates discretionary bursary allocations for most institutions based on the number of students that received £30 a week Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in the 2009 to 2010 academic year, as a percentage of the 2010 to 2011 funded student numbers. This percentage is applied annually to institutions’ allocated student numbers and multiplied by a funding rate.  

Our view is that this methodology needs updating to better match the financial disadvantage and need across the country, whilst providing support to ensure all students, regardless of their financial situation, can fully participate in education.  A revised methodology could 

  • see the funding distributed more towards those in most financial need, helping to even out the different levels of support available to students nationally
  • provide a better match to the costs faced by students to participate
  • more accurately reflect the number of disadvantaged students at each institution (compared to the 2009 to 2010 EMA data currently used), and
  • provide a methodology better suited to institutions with no historic EMA data.

What happens next

This consultation is now closed and the Government response report has been published.  


  • Teachers
  • Headteachers
  • Governors
  • School support staff
  • Training providers
  • Local authorities
  • Further education colleges
  • Sixth form colleges
  • Independent specialist colleges
  • Designated institutions and 16-19 academies
  • Virtual school heads
  • Young people
  • Parents
  • Foster carers
  • Adoptive parents


  • Travel to school and colleges
  • Post-16 funding
  • Participation of young people in education, employment and training