Denis Goldberg Scholarship Programme

A woman in colourful African top listens to a lecture

Providing opportunities to access life-changing education

Through the Denis Goldberg Scholarship Programme, we will support disadvantaged postgraduate students from across Southern Africa to take up courses in our school of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society (EGIS), and progress onto rewarding careers and leaderships roles in the energy industry in Southern Africa.

Barriers to higher education in Southern Africa

Denis Goldberg was a South African social campaigner, who was active in the struggle against apartheid for which he was imprisoned for 22 years. Denis was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2018 in recognition of his immense and selfless contribution to civil society, learning for all and democracy. Denis devoted his life to racial politics and human rights, risking his freedom, alongside the seven other Rivonia triallists including Nelson Mandela. In the wake of Denis’ life-long commitment to fighting apartheid, South Africa began its journey to becoming a more just nation. However, racism and racial inequality still persists across Southern Africa and there remains political and socio-economic barriers to education. As a university committed to equity and diversity, we aim to increase opportunities for talented students from low-income background across Southern Africa to undertake life changing education and grow the cultural diversity of our learning community.  

This project is not only driven by Denis’ life, but also our commitment to supporting equality, diversity and inclusion and the UN sustainable development goals. Through this project, we seek to create life changing opportunities not only for the talented Southern African students now able to access a Heriot-Watt education, but for the communities in which they are from, as they return with new skills to support local development.


Through the Denis Goldberg Scholarship Programme, we aim to increase the enrolment and retention of Southern African students on Heriot-Watt’s Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society postgraduate courses by:

  • Establishing a pioneering programme of scholarships for up to 35 students targeted to study areas across EGIS,
  • Providing an opportunity of mentoring and networking through Heriot-Watt alumni and strong industry partnerships across Southern African and beyond,
  • Working with our local stakeholders in Southern Africa to establish connections into local communities,
  • Eventually expanding the scholarship programme to engage with other schools across Heriot-Watt to bring a wider range of courses to the scholarship programme.

Project details

This project will launch a programme of scholarships for 35 postgraduate students across Southern Africa over 3 years to access life changing education at Heriot-Watt. Each 3-year scholarship is £12,000.

Professor Malcolm Chrisp

"The Denis Goldberg International Scholarship programme is a wonderful and exciting opportunity for disadvantaged students from Southern Africa to study at Heriot-Watt. The project will address the UN Sustainable Development Goals by creating a new cohort of talented students that will be the foundation of a strong international relationship with our communities in Southern Africa. Each scholarship will give students access to the complete educational opportunities of our online MSc programmes and be connected to in-country professional support networks and research projects. As a result of this, our entire MSc cohorts will benefit from the inclusion and perspective of this new international relationship and will gain a better understanding in addressing real-world challenges.   

"Our Scholarship programme will see the development of in-country professional support networks through our contacts with Charities operating on the ground in Southern Africa - such as our Partners Challenges Worldwide. By providing students with these networks, we aim to ensure that students are directly linked to local professional networks of employers who can help support the on-line learning experience and build in-country expertise in sustainable development."

Professor Malcolm Chrisp, Head of School, School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society

Our ambitions for impact

The Denis Goldberg Scholarship Programme will create lifelong impact for Southern African students, offering them life changing education, opportunities to realise their potential and progression onto rewarding careers. We hope to consequently enhance the education and research of EGIS through collaborative working with different cultural approaches and international connections. Our hope is to pilot this scholarship programme for 35 students across their 3-year courses, and eventually expand the scholarships across the whole of Heriot-Watt University as well as to more students from across Southern African and beyond. We will create a unique opportunity for Southern African students to access a postgraduate education and enter into academia with the best possible support.

You can make a difference

With your support we can offer life changing opportunities to students across Southern Africa.

Fundraising target: £420,000

  • A donation of £12,000 will fund one student scholarship for three years;
  • 100 kind graduates giving £10 a month will fund one student scholarship for three years.

To arrange a conversation about the project, contact Andrew Mackinnon,

How to give