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A World Class Education within your Budget : 191 bursary awards at Dulwich College

Last Updated on : 9th October 2019

By Dr Joe Spence, The Master, Dulwich College

I will always remember my incredible educational journey at Dulwich College,
which provided me with opportunities as diverse as going on sport tours,
being a school magazine editor and being a Young Leader at Scouts.


Every parent hopes their children can attend a school that offers a stimulating academic curriculum alongside transformational opportunities beyond the classroom. For those families whose academically able and curious sons are offered a place at Dulwich College, but who cannot afford to pay, the offer of a means-tested bursary to cover all or part of the school fees is vital.

Our foundation is one of inclusiveness

Enabling families with academically-minded boys from all backgrounds to consider applying to Dulwich College, irrespective of their financial means, is, and always has been, one of our core objectives. Edward Alleyn founded the school exactly 400 years ago for precisely this purpose.

£3m granted to support bursaries every year

Currently 191 boys are in receipt of a bursary at Dulwich, most on bursaries that cover 75% or more of fees. 77 boys hold 100% bursary awards i.e. 100% of their school fees are covered by their bursary.It is the ambition of the College that we can be ‘needs-blind’; that is to say, that we will be able to offer financial assistance to every boy who passes our entrance exams and whose family needs some support with fees. Every year over £3m is granted to support bursaries, drawn from the distribution of the Dulwich Estate (which is used solely for this purpose) and from the generous benefactors of the Dulwich College Bursary Appeal. Monies raised from commercial activities and income from our international schools also feed into our Bursary Fund.

A diverse community

We are one of the UK’s leading independent schools for boys aged 7 to 18, committed to maintaining our diverse and welcoming community. The pupils, their families and our staff come from many different backgrounds, with, for example, more than 40 languages spoken amongst the community.

An egalitarian community

As I set out our mission to support many more boys for whom a liberal education could be transformational, my main message to parents and boys is that there is absolutely no difference between a Dulwich College education with a bursary or without one. The identities of the boys who are in receipt of bursaries are known to only a few members of staff. Our community is a mosaic of families from many different socio-economic circumstances and we are all enriched by this. The differences we celebrate are those of thinking, ideas, ambitions, experiences and interests.

A passionate community

The members of our teaching staff are passionate about their subjects and in addition to ensuring their tutees achieve excellent grades in their GCSEs and A levels, they have the time and will to explore their subjects far beyond the curriculum. Teachers are also encouraged to share their wider intellectual, cultural, sporting, adventurous and charitable interests with their charges.

The many opportunities for stretching thinking beyond the curriculum mean boys are able, without pressure, to explore interests and ideas that might become lifelong passions. Every year, for example, our Year 12 and 13 pupils participate in a Symposium day with outstanding keynote speakers and undergraduate-style seminars. This year’s theme is ‘Consumption’, whilst previous years have looked at ‘Uncertainty’, ‘Us & Them’, ‘The individual and society’ and ‘Power’. The Symposium often helps boys clarify their university courses and sometimes their career ambitions too.

In addition to Duke of Edinburgh awards and CCF (Combined Cadet Force), over 60 Societies and Clubs – many run by the boys – offer great opportunities to build friendships based on shared interests. Boys are encouraged to try out a great range of clubs until they find the two or three that really fascinate them from amongst, for example: Acapella, Islamic, Animation, Mahjong, Cakespeare, Magic, DCTV (Film & Music Making), Norse and Germanic,Debating, Opera, Drones, Equality, Rocketry, Diplomacy, Socialist, Graphic Novels, and Human Rights.

A supportive community

Every Dulwich College pupil is encouraged to engage in some active volunteering during their time at school. The majority of students commit to supporting one of our established community partners either at lunchtimes, after school or on Saturday mornings. As boys build relationships through their Community Action projects, they develop an appreciation of how a cohesive, supportive and caring local community can be fostered. As students further understand their active role in society, their perception of their own sense of self and wellbeing is also promoted.

University destinations

Whilst a few boys are choosing to undertake prestigious Degree Apprenticeships or Art foundation courses after their A levels, the majority begin undergraduate study at top UK and overseas universities, whether directly from school or after a well-plotted gap year.  Last year the destinations of pupils who were in receipt of 70%+ bursary awards included the following universities:

Bursary award Universities
100% Leeds, Bristol and Queen Mary
95% Warwick and Nottingham
90% St Andrews and Birmingham
85% Oxford
75% Bristol
70% St George’s Medical School

Academic, Actor, Ambassador, Architect, Archivist, Artist, Broadcaster, Civil Servant, Doctor, Entrepreneur, Film maker, Fundraiser, IT specialist, Journalist, Lawyer, Musician, Photographer, Politician, Scientist, Sportsman, Teacher, Writer…

Old Alleynians (the name given to College alumni) are represented in virtually every profession. Gaining experience of leadership and teamwork and growing to understand the importance of clear communication and lateral thinking, Dulwich boys are well on the way to being prepared for entry into the traditional and new careers they will enjoy during their long and fascinating working lives.

All my experiences at the College are helping me now that I am out in the world
and embarking on a long cherished ambition to become a doctor


Ahmed’s story
Ahmed is a pseudonym – boys who are in receipt of bursaries are known only to a few staff, reflecting our egalitarian ethos.

Eight years ago Ahmed left Iraq with his mother to live with his father, who travelled as an asylum seeker to the UK when Ahmed was 6 months old. Ahmed spoke no English on arrival, but by the end of Year 8 he had worked hard to become a fluent English speaker.

Through his own initiative whilst at his local Academy, Ahmed applied for a place on the Into Oxford residential programme where he heard about Into University and the Royal National Springboard Foundation, the UK’s largest boarding bursary charity,who introduced us to Ahmed. We were delighted to welcome him into Year 12 as a boarder studying Geography, Maths and Physics.

Ahmed was a Junior Prefect in Year 12 and then elected to be a Senior Prefect with responsibility for Libraries. He was heavily involved in the College’s Community Action and charity fund-raising projects.

Ahmed applied for and was awarded one of four places on the bursary-funded Outward Bound Canada 2018, organised by SSLP (Southwark Schools Learning Partnership).Ahmed described this as ‘amazing, an eye-opening and a fantastic time for reflection on my aspirations and goals’. He relished the challenge to push himself physically and mentally.

Of his time at Dulwich College, Ahmed said it has been ‘a life-changing experience, opening doors and opportunities, and providing a platform to express my passion for my academic subjects and co-curricular interests’.

He aspires to be a pilot and successfully applied for a place on a work experience scheme with British Airways in summer 2019.

Ahmed has taken up his offer of a place to study Geography at King’s College London. We know we’ll stay in touch; our network of alumni numbers some 10,000 across the globe.

What is a Bursary and who is eligible?

A Dulwich College bursary is the offer of financial assistance to cover the cost of fees – in full or in part. Bursaries range from 10% of fees to 100% of fees. The majority of awards are between 75% and 100%.

A Dulwich College bursary is means-tested. In making an award, the College’s Bursary Committee takes into account family income from all sources and assets including property value, savings, investments and other capital assets. Bursaries are calculated on a sliding scale and are reviewed annually. As a broad guideline, families whose total income is £35,000 per annum might receive a bursary of 100% of school fees and families whose total income is around £65,000 per annum might receive financial support of 50% of school fees. These figures are indicative only.

In addition to school fees, means-tested support may be available for lunches, trips and other enrichment activities.

Families will continue to be eligible for financial support throughout their son’s time at Dulwich College; the size of the award is reviewed each year.

Applying for a Bursary

The majority of Bursary applications are made on entry to the Lower School in Year 7 and to the Middle School in Year 9.  A small number of means-tested bursaries are awarded each year to boys joining the Junior School in Year 3.

Parents interested in applying for an entry bursary for September 2020 should tick the appropriate box on the Registration Form.

If you have any questions about Bursaries, please contact our Registrar, Mrs Sarah Betts ( or visit our website.

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