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Armed forces sixth form bursaries: update

Army, Navy, and RAF

All three of the UK armed forces offer sponsorship to students in the sixth form or equivalent, in return for a minimum of . The Army have recently reformed their 'Sixth Form Scholarship Scheme'. It is now called the 'Army Officer Scholarship Scheme', and the updated overview document notes two major changes. Firstly, from 2015, the scheme 'will automatically include a provisional award of an Army Undergraduate bursary, so you won't have to apply for it separately.' Secondly, students are now paid, via their parent/guardian(s), a one-off sum of £3000 at the end of Year 13, rather than the previous £1500 each year, and the extra £3000 paid on completion of Sandhurst officer training appears to have been dropped, though it still exists for those who go onto study at university with an Army Undergraduate Bursary. The document fails to mention any of the risks, downsides and ethical questions faced by Commission Officers in the Army. It states at the end that 'We hope that you will make a career in the Army. If you want to withdraw from the scheme you can, but you will need to refund the money you have received.' It doesn't mention the point up to which withdrawal is possible; presumably up until commissioning at Sandhurst. 

There seems to have been less reform of the Navy or RAF sixth form scholarship schemes. Neither official webpage mentions any of the risks, downsides, or ethical questions that Commissioned Officers could face. The Navy scheme now pays students £1500 per year, rather than £1050. It allows students to apply for both years, or just the final year. Their scholarship webpage does not mention the minimum length of time that scholars who complete the post-studies training have to remain in the Navy for, nor students' option to leave the scheme. The RAF offer even less information about their sixth form sponsorship, merely stating, 'If you think you’ve got what it takes to be an Officer in the RAF, you could receive a sponsorship through sixth form and even University. Competition is tough though so you’ll need to show a real commitment to your studies and a potential future in the RAF.' They used to pay students £1000 in their final year of sixth form. 

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