Dept of History of Art | About us | Bursaries, awards and prizes | Royal Female School of Art Bursaries
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Royal Female School of Art Foundation Bursaries

The Department of History of Art at Birkbeck has been delighted to receive grant aid from the Royal Female School of Art Foundation for the last few years, to help support students on the following programmes, who are suffering short-term financial hardship:

We have just been successful in another application which will enable us, once again, to provide maintenance bursaries for a number of students on these courses in the academic year 2019-20.

Successful applicants will be awarded a sum to assist with costs such as tuition fees, the purchase of books, travel and childcare. This sum will vary, according to intensity of study, from £750 (for students on the Cert HE) to £1125 (for students on the 4 year BA) and £1500 (for those on the accelerated 3 year BA). Applications will be considered on the basis of need, prioritising cases where a student would be unable to start or forced to leave the programme without this financial support.

The deadline for applications is Friday 13 September 2019. To apply, you need to be able to make a case as to why you need one of these bursaries and how you think it will help you to continue with and complete your programme of study. You also need to supply any supporting material you are able to offer, and to provide a supporting statement. Please note: if you are not a current student, you cannot apply for one of these bursaries until you have been offered a place on the BA or have enrolled on the Cert HE.

Download the application form here.

We hope to be able to inform applicants shortly after the deadline if their application has been successful.

Statements from past recipients of RFSA bursaries

“The RFSA bursary helped me immensely during my time at Birkbeck ... this bursary made it possible for me to continue my course full time without having to choose between being a mum and being a student."

“As a final year part-time student, I needed to take extra time off work in order to focus on my dissertation and other university assignments. This impacted my income greatly since I am paid hourly. The RFSA bursary has been a vital support throughout my final year, helping me with rent, living and university expenses such as books and travel.”

“When my employment circumstances changed I experienced financial difficulty and could not maintain the tuition fee payments. The RFSA bursary helped me to secure my registration on the course and continue my studies this year.”

“The RFSA bursary was an invaluable help with all the new expenses that a student might encounter at the start of an academic year. With the money I received I managed to get a laptop, books and other essentials that I am using daily in my studies. I rely solely on my own income and live on my own. Without the bursary I would not have been able to progress as much as I have, and I am very grateful for that.”

“Running a home and working full time in an office can sometimes be stressful. One might wonder, and where do you find the time to study a BA, and why? Attending the lectures at Birkbeck is like a fresh breeze, an opportunity to learn new things and to meet people who share the same interests. I always make the time to attend the lectures, I love it. Having a bursary this year has alleviated the economic pressure that a BA puts on a family economy and made things a bit easier.”

“The RFSA bursary gave me the confidence to reduce my working hours, making it possible for me to complete my degree this year. Taking Fridays off work has also allowed me to have weekly meetings with my mentor and personal needs tutor.”

“The bursary has made learning more accessible to me, funding transport costs to and from university and enabled me to purchase books and study materials. Without this support, it would not have been possible for me to pursue this path and, for this, I will always be eternally grateful. On a more personal note, having the knowledge that someone has invested in my future will always be an inspiration to me."

About the Royal Female School of Art

The RFSA was an offshoot of the Government School of Design, established in 1842. It was an art training college, founded with the aim of getting its female students into paid employment. Teaching was originally carried out below the male school in Somerset House, but the School moved to Gower Street in 1852. An advert for its classes in elementary drawing in The Leader on 29 January 1853 states that the School was open on Monday and Wednesday evenings between the hours of 6 and 8pm, and that a month's instruction could be obtained for 3 shillings. By 1861, the School had moved to 43 Queen Square.

In 1908, the School came under the control of the London County Council and, five years later, it was merged with the Central School of Arts and Crafts (now Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design).

The Royal Female School of Art Foundation is now a registered charity. For more information visit the RFSA website, or contact the Foundation Secretary & Grants Manager at

Life Class

Image: The Life Class at the Royal Female School of Art, 1868