Credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash

NCTJ- and BJTC-accredited courses, encompassing university degrees and professional qualifications, are among the main routes to enter the media industry. However, fees can often become a barrier for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and marginalised groups.

Since its inception in 2005, the NCTJ’s own Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) has awarded bursaries to over 500 aspiring journalists to cover their NCTJ course fees and living expenses.

However, due to some limitations in its scope, the JDF is not a viable solution for everyone. Here are some alternative sources of support.

Aziz Foundation

The Aziz Foundation endeavours to financially support Muslim students in a range of educational fields. Aspiring Muslim journalists can apply for scholarships covering Master's degree programmes, certificates, and diplomas at any institution. Applications are processed on a rolling basis.

The Guardian’s Scott Trust Bursary

The Guardian Foundation offers six annual bursaries to MA students from low-income or underrepresented backgrounds within the industry at selected universities. Aside from fully covering tuition fees and most living expenses, the bursaries include mentorship, work experience and fixed-term employment opportunities at the company upon graduation. The next round of applications will open in early 2024.

Centre for Investigative Journalism’s Lyra McKee Bursary Scheme

This scheme was started in memory of Irish investigative journalist Lyra McKee who was murdered on the field in 2019. Open to all residents in the UK or the Republic of Ireland, it offers five months of online training and mentoring. The bursary also helps beneficiaries travelling to London for the annual CIJ Summer Investigative Journalism Conference. By the end of the programme, trainees can pitch investigation ideas to working UK editors.

Journalists’ Charity’s First Job Fund

The Journalists’ Charity supports journalists going through financial difficulties at various stages of their careers. The fund is aimed at those starting their first full-time job in the industry and struggling with essential costs including accommodation, living, and professional equipment expenditures. Journalists who have worked full-time for less than two years on different contracts and freelancers who list journalism as their main source of income are also eligible. Applications are open all year round.

The George Viner Memorial Fund

This programme, administered by the National Union of Journalists, funds black or Asian British citizens who are due to start an industry-recognised journalism degree. Applicants need to provide two references and state the requested grant amount based on a self-calculated budget. The current round of applications is closing on 31st July 2023.

Ability Today’s Academy for Disabled Journalists

While the JDF only funds students attending in-person courses, disabled people often find that remote opportunities can better accommodate their needs. The Academy for Disabled Journalists (ADJ), founded by social enterprise Ability Today and subsidised by the National Lottery, offers part-time NCTJ-accredited courses at significantly reduced costs. Applications for both Level 3 and Level 5 qualifications courses are reopening in Autumn 2023.

Royal Television Society Bursaries

The RTS offers three schemes in support of undergraduate students from low-income households who are committed to pursuing a career in television. Applicants need to submit examples of their work in digital format. The bursaries include a £1,000 annual allowance, RTS membership, and an industry mentor. The current round of applications is closing on 31st July 2023.

The Ian Parry Photojournalism Grant

Aspiring photojournalists who are either under 24 or enrolled in a full-time photography course can apply for the Ian Parry Grant. Applicants must submit a portfolio of 12 images and a project proposal following the brief provided on the website. The grant, which is currently accepting applications until 31st August 2023, is open to submissions from all over the world.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).