The difference between bursary and scholarship can be explained in terms of the criteria used to award each. A bursary is based on financial need of the person receiving it while a scholarship is awarded based on academic excellence or other earned merit (Conestoga). It should be noted however that the recipients of a bursary should show some bit of academic achievement and other criteria may be used to qualify one to receive a bursary.
Therefore, for one to qualify for a scholarship there must be proven record of academic merit. This is not necessarily so in the case of a bursary. To receive a bursary, one requires to show that he or she is in need of financial aid and must therefore prove eligibility by showing that he or she is not able to raise the funds needed for his or her education (Callender, 2009). In this regard, while scholarships are open to all, bursaries are mostly open to the needy in the society.
Scholarships may be limited to a specific category of people based on criteria set by those offering them. This could be in terms of nationality. The only distinction is that despite the limit, the recipient must have shown academic merit for him or her to qualify for a scholarship. There are some scholarships that are designed for international students. These scholarships are awarded to students who have shown exemplary performance in various areas including, but not limited, to academics.
There are some institutions that offer bursaries to international students depending on the level of their need. These bursaries are categorized according to countries such that there are some international students who may not qualify for a bursary if they are not from the countries specified by the institution offering the bursary.
In some cases the recipients of the bursary may be required to pay for it, for instance by signing a work contract if a company offered the bursary. A bursary may be awarded to a student who has shown excellent work in particular area of study. A bursary depends on the profession one is taking. A Scholarship on the other hand does not require repayment. They are offered basically on the basis of excellent academic achievement.
In some instances bursaries may be automatically given to the needy students in an area. This means that if it is proven that the said students are need; they may not necessarily need to apply. However, for the scholarship those who become eligible on the basis of academic merit are required to apply for the scholarship. After applying for the scholarship, the ones who qualify are selected on a competitive basis. Therefore, those who are at the top in terms of performance become the ones to get the scholarship. It is purely based on merit. Someone may receive a bursary even if others have performed better than them provided they meet the criteria for the award of the bursary, one of which is on the basis of how needy the prospective recipient of the bursary is.
To sum up, it is important for the students applying for scholarship and bursaries to understand the difference between the two. There also need to be an awareness that the criteria and the requirements vary from institution to institution and place to place. Therefore, there is need for those applying to study the requirements of the various institutions before applying and not rely on what they have known about another place. They should not waste the chance of receiving the bursary or the scholarship, whichever they are applying for, just because they failed to take into consideration the requirements of a specific institution. It is also worth noting that sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, so there is need to know exactly what one is applying for.