Funding – what you need to know

If you are thinking about starting a course at College, it’s important to know all about funding too.

Ayrshire College Student Funding teams are located in Ayr, Kilmarnock and Kilwinning campuses and are available to students studying at all of our campuses.

They can offer advice on Bursaries, Childcare Funding, Education Maintenance Allowance, Discretionary Funding, SAAS Funding, Student Loans and Attendance.

We looked at the most common questions that our Student Funding team at the College get asked on a daily basis.


Here’s what they said –

Funding for a NC, Access, SVQ or NQ Level Course

Q – How do I get a bursary application form and where should I hand it in?
A – Once you’re offered a place on a course, you’ll see in your offer letter details of how to apply for funding. You’ll also receive a text and email to your personal email address with a unique reference number. You’ll need to use this on your funding application and for any funding enquiries.

Q – If I have difficulties completing the form or if I would like to speak to someone, can I come in to the Funding office?
A – Yes you can pop into the student funding offices any week day between 8.45am and 4.45pm and speak to a team member. You can come along with a parent if you like.

Q – How long will I have to wait to hear about my bursary?
A – It can take about 8 weeks to process so please apply as soon as you can. At peak times, it can take slightly longer. We send a reminder text and email every 2 weeks. It’s really important that we receive the documents we request, otherwise an award can be delayed and the applicant may not receive all the funding applied for.

Q – Once I get my bursary approved, what happens next?
A – A letter will be sent to your home address, with an acceptance sheet enclosed which must be signed and returned to the student funding office in either Ayr, Kilmarnock or Kilwinning. Once you enrol on the course, your payments are processed as per the agreed payment schedule and transferred to your bank account. We recommend that every student sets up their own bank account.

Click here to view our guides of how much you may receive.


Funding for HNC and HND Level courses

Q – I’ve been told to apply for funding. What do I do?
A – You would complete the online funding application at We can help you complete this at the College if you would prefer. You must complete this application to be considered for a tuition fee award.

Q – How do I know if my funding application has been accepted?
A – You need to log into your online SAAS account and all communications will come via this account, including your offer letter, which you need to print off and hand in to the finance office in the College.

Q – What about next year when I go onto my HND year – will I have to reapply for funding?
A – You have to apply each year. Funding is not considered for more than one academic year.

Q – What does the funding include?
A – You should apply on a SAAS application for your tuition fee waiver, a student loan, a young student bursary and if you have any special disability requirements you may apply for assistance to fund those. Student loans are optional.

Q – How is it paid?
A – Monthly in instalments into the student’s nominated bank account.

We spoke to Suzie Penman, HNC Graphic Design and Illustration student at Ayrshire College. She told us about her experience with student funding.

“When I first started my course I didn’t know much about funding, all I knew is what I’d read from the SAAS website, which was very confusing. As a mature student I had no idea what else I could qualify for. After speaking to the funding department at the college I discovered that I was not only able to have my course fee’s paid but I also qualified for exemption from council tax and I could apply for something called a DHP, Discretionary Housing Payment. This allowed for extra help in paying my rent. I wasn’t aware about any of this until I was half way through my course! My advice to all students out there; go see the funding department sooner rather than later!”

Click here for more information on student funding.

Fashion student is going places

Niomi Halliday

A fashion student who has been studying at Ayrshire College for the past three years is about to embark on the next stage of her journey – by moving onto the London College of Fashion.

19 year old Niomi Halliday, who lives in Auchinleck, will travel to the UK’s capital for a three year course in Visual Merchandising and Branding, starting in September, after completing her HND in Fashion with the College.

She is a mixture of nerves and excitement as we speak to her before she finishes up for good at the College’s Ayr campus.

“I was thinking ‘what do I want to do?’ now that my time at college is nearly over, and I saw there was a visual merchandising course in branding. There isn’t anything like this in Scotland, so I thought ‘why not? I’m going to go for it.’

“They liked my application so invited me to send over some of my portfolio. Once they liked that, I went down for my interview and then found out I got in.”

Moving away from home can be a daunting task for any young person, and moving to London would normally carry that extra pinch of trepidation for most people. For Niomi though, it’s an ideal opportunity to progress down the career path she’s decided on.

“I’m going there myself. At first I was nervous, I’m not going to know anyone; what if I don’t make friends? But everyone’s the same. Everyone’s going to be moving there to do it.

“I’ve just paid my advanced deposit for my halls – I’m going to stay there in my first year so that I can meet people.”

That level of confidence seems to come naturally to Niomi, however she points out that the London School of Fashion is something she never would have dreamt about when she first began studying fashion.

“I don’t think I would have ever thought about going to London if I didn’t come to Ayrshire College. I would never have done anything like this. I feel like in the last three years I’ve grown up an awful lot and it’s made me ready. I feel like my time here has built me up and got me ready for it – I feel like I can go and smash it.”

As part of the HND Fashion group, Niomi was recently involved in the College’s Creative Candy event – an end of year showcase put on at Ayr Racecourse by Ayrshire College’s creative students.

The event was an ideal opportunity for the group to put everything they had learnt into practice one final time.

“My job was to do the running order backstage and make sure everybody was dressed and ready in the order that they were supposed to be in before sending them on the catwalk that day.

“We’ve had a taste of every aspect of fashion in this course – whether that’s sewing, pattern cutting, marketing, commercial design, fashion forecasting or visual merchandising.

“I love visual merchandising. It just seems to come naturally to me.”

Sporting Double

Twin brothers Jordan and Troy McGonigal, 20 from Beith have just finished their HNC Sports Coaching and Development course at Ayrshire College. Based in the new Skills Centre of Excellence in Irvine, we spoke to them about their learning experience in this new campus and what the future holds for our successful sports graduates.

Sports twins - Troy and JasonHave you always been interested in sport?

Yes, we have always been into sport, following all sports on the TV and playing football. Our papa got us into Go-Karting and we became really good at it. But it’s an expensive sport to take part in especially the equipment and the licenses.

Was it doing PE at school that led you to choose a sports course?

Troy: I did PE at school and I was in the Garnock Academy Football team. I did a community sports leader award and really enjoyed the leadership side and it made me think about this as a career. I started with a Pathways to Sport course followed by NC Advanced Sport and Fitness and I’ve just completed my HNC Sports Coaching and Development. What I love about sport is that it is played all over the world, it’s a universal language that brings people together. It breaks down barriers and no matter how good or bad you are it doesn’t matter. The main thing is you enjoy what you are doing.

Jordan: Well I stopped doing PE in 4th Year as I didn’t like playing sport. I’m a people person and I initially got a job working in a café working with disabled and vulnerable adults so I decided to come to college and study care. However although I liked working in the care industry – it turned out studying these subjects just wasn’t for me. Troy persuaded me to come on this course – he thought I would like it because it’s not about being good at sport, it’s about working with people, motivating them to be the best they can be and building teams, so you see my people skills have been really useful.

What’s the course like?

Jordan: it’s good, easier than I thought it would be. The fact that I am interested in sport really helps my understanding and I have picked it up OK. I seem to have a knack for coaching. I’ve found what it is I’m good at. (Except anatomy – that’s hard!)

Troy: the thing about coaching is you do it once, and it makes you want to do it again. The more you do the more confident and comfortable you become. It can be a bit scary at first, it’s hard managing a group of 4-7 year olds for the first time as they can be a bit loud and unruly with no regard for health and safety. But you soon get over that! The NC course is more practical and the HNC course is 80% theory and 20% practical – it’s not as easy as you think! It’s not just playing games.

Jordan: The course has given me opportunities to get experience in the community. I help coach the Beith 5-7 year old football team. I did this for a 36 hour work experience unit. I’ve really enjoyed it so I have stayed on. It’s an early morning start and I’ve got to fund my own expenses but it’s a small price to pay for this great chance to make a difference in the community.

What’s been the highlight of the year?

Troy: I think the move from Largs to Irvine. Although the Largs campus was quite far out the facilities were good. Irvine is okay and the good thing is we get to train in different places like Eglinton Park and the Kilwinning Sports Club. We get a wide variety of sports to take part in like football, rugby, badminton, volleyball, American football, cycling. Another highlight has been our college football team won the college league.

What makes the Skills Centre of Excellence special?

Troy: Learning is easier and better if you have fun. The lecturers here keep us engaged, keep us on track and they are a good laugh – but serious when they need to be and we get the work done. They have studied the same courses as us and understand how we feel and what we need.

Jordan: They are approachable and friendly and provide a supportive environment for us to learn in. We are like a close knit family – we know everyone on the campus and we’re all good friends. I think that is what makes this place special.

What does the future hold for you both?

Troy: We’re going to university to continue our sports coaching/ sports management qualifications. We are really optimistic about our job prospects. Local sports clubs are all crying out for coaches. I’ve had to turn down job offers already. By volunteering it shows commitment and willingness and we get great satisfaction knowing we are helping people. The clubs try to give back by paying for our coaching badge.

Jordan: We have had employers visiting our class to interview us for jobs. E.g KA leisure are looking for relief staff and this is great work while we are at college.

What advice would you give a young person who is unsure about studying sport as a career?

Troy: Go for it – if you are interested in sport you’ll enjoy the course. Give it a try! It does not matter if you are good/not good at sport. What’s important is your enthusiasm and willingness to develop yourself and always seek to improve on what you do. You’ll enjoy it and want to stay. It grabbed my attention from day one and my interest has not faded. I’ve enjoyed working towards and achieving my goal.

Jordan: I would never have thought of this as a career if Troy hadn’t suggested it. At school I wanted to do photography and graphics but I couldn’t get in and was on a waiting list, then I tried the care course. Who knew my skills could be transferred to sports coaching. It’s an amazing job – definitely give it a try!

For more information on sports courses or to apply click here

Get involved! Sport is for everyone!

Sport and Fitness Lecturer, Elizabeth Smith tells us about her journey into a career in sport and some of the highlights of her year at Ayrshire College so far.

Sport has always been a part of my life one way or another. Whilst at school I played in variety of sports teams including hockey and tennis. However my passion was for athletics and my teachers at St Convals/St Josephs encouraged me to take part in regional activities where I was seen by coaches from Ayr Seaforth and asked to join the club. I had a very successful time at the club winning many titles along the way. One of the highlights I have was when we were asked to do a run through for the Commonwealth Games in Meadowbank where I got to see a few of my role models of the time Lindsey McDonald and Sally Gunnel.


At the time sport was a hobby, on leaving school I went to College and did a Nursery Nurse course which led me to moving abroad where I worked as a nanny and then a classroom assistant in schools. I was involved in many sports clubs and inter school competitions. On returning home to Scotland I continued to volunteer in local schools again taking lunchtime and after school sports activities which were popular as it was made inclusive to all children regardless of abilities.

It has not always been easy to make room for sport as I had three children to bring up and worked part time in a local post office, my passion was kept alive through my children’s involvement in sport which helped me to make the life changing decision to return to College as a mature learner to pursue my passion for sport.

I started my journey as a NC student and subsequently progressed and achieved my HNC then HND in Sports Coaching and Development. I then attended Scottish Agriculture College/ University of Glasgow where I gained a BA in Sport & Recreation Management. My lecturers from Townholm campus encouraged me to take another big step to become a lecturer, I attended University of Stirling where I achieved my (TQFE) Teaching Qualification in Further Education.  I was offered a job as a bank lecturer and thankfully I secured a full time permanent job as a Sport and Fitness Lecturer.

Highlights of this year
I am now working in the Skills Centre of Excellence in Irvine which is linked to Irvine Royal Academy. It’s a great campus which has the feeling of being one big family where we help and support one another. We have over 200 students who are studying Sports Coaching, Applied Sport Science and Fitness Health and Exercise. Based here and you get to know every one of them. I think the students benefit from this nurturing environment as they receive a well-rounded learning experience, they can be themselves and you can really see their confidence and self-esteem develop. It is also very sociable – they get to know students from other courses who come from all over the West of Scotland.

The highlights of the year have been the partnerships we have in the community with Kilwinning Sports Centre, SRU, SFA , Irvine Sports Club, Beith Astro, KA leisure and South/North Ayrshire Active Schools. Along with our links with local schools including Haysholm and St Marks .We have broadened the students learning with training courses with Positive Coaching Scotland, Scottish Disability Sport, Rugby Ready course. Our students have volunteered at many events including being runners for the SFA, Marshalls for Scottish Rugby games, Primary School after school programmes as well as sports days, and best of all our student football team won the South West League Title.


Lets Have More…
Participation in sports by all our students. One of the things I’d like to see more participation in lunchtime/ after college clubs. These clubs are for any college student and not just sports and fitness students but for any student from Ayrshire College. We have capacity for teams in football, rugby, volleyball, basketball, badminton, netball, athletics and golf we also have the capabilities for exercise classes and a fully functional gym.

Let’s have more girls on our sports courses!


Did you know 40% of girls have dropped out of all sports activity by the time they reach 18.

Almost half of adult women in Scotland (43%) participate in little or no sport at all.

79% of girls aged 8-15 did not see being fit and healthy as important.

Only 17% of girls in Primary 7 – Secondary 2 report doing moderate physical activity for 1 hour on more than 5 days per week as recommended by national guidelines. In addition 42% of girls in this age group report doing 1 hour or less per week of vigorous physical activity. (Reference: Making Women and Girls More Active; A Good Practice Guide).

As a female lecturer I fell I can make a difference by helping young women gain access, embrace opportunity and enjoy sport by making my lessons fun and encouraging students to be the best they can be.

It is important that everyone feels welcome to take part regardless of their abilities as it should be fun and enjoyable one of the best ways is to have a buddy system where you come to take part /practise in activities in pairs or groups of two or three where it can be less daunting and more fun when you have friends with you.

One step at a time ………………….we can achieve anything we set our minds to!

One of Elizabeth’s students is Kirsty Wilson, 17 from Portencross in North Ayrshire who has just completed her HNC Sports Coaching at the Skills Centre of Excellence in Irvine.

Kirsty went to Ardrossan Academy last year and with four Highers in the bag she was all set to start a course in Interior Design. However over the summer holidays last year she completed a leadership course with Active Schools and the experience dramatically changed her careers plans.

Kirsty says, “I am a really practical person and like to be active. My experience working with primary school children was enlightening. I love seeing how much fun the children had playing sport and the positive effect it had on their lives. Sport makes people feel good and makes me feel good too.

I used to do athletics at primary school and I was the school captain. We won our races and when I left they started to lose. I went back as a volunteer and they started winning again – it was really satisfying to know the difference I could make. I didn’t do PE as a Higher at school – I really had no interest yet when I worked with Active Schools, I saw the potential for a rewarding career.

I applied to lots of places that offered sports courses but when I came here I thought I’d fit in and it’s close to where I live. I have not regretted the decision for a moment. The lecturers have been really helpful and the pace of work is fine. On our course we have had lots of opportunities to volunteer. For example every Friday I coach athletics in Largs. I was also invited to coach at an Easter camp and I got paid for this.

One of the highlights of the year has been experiencing playing rugby. It’s a really exciting game. The Head of Rugby came to the college and has explained the opportunities available to coach rugby and offered me an apprenticeship. I am the youngest in the class and there are four girls and eighteen boys so it was a privilege to be asked – but I don’t want to specialise just yet. It does not really bother me that there are so few girls in my class. I’m quite a girly girl and at first I wore a lot of make-up. I never felt judged and I find myself with a more natural look and feel accepted.

I like to work with the Primary school children and tell the girls – come on you are just as good as the boys – you can win. I think I’m quite a good role model as I helped them win and made them feel good about themselves.

The highlight of my year has been trying new experiences, building up my self-confidence and meeting new people. The coaching course has helped reaffirm what I am good at and what I enjoy and if I have inspired children to pursue sport, I will feel I have made a useful contribution. Next year I have a choice to make between doing the HND course or going straight into university. We have also been talking to KA Leisure about coaching vacancies they have, so I could go straight into employment. It’s exciting to have so many opportunities.

We still have places on sport and fitness courses at Irvine and Kilmarnock.  To apply go to Courses