Maths Gym Project

Two students or colleagues work on an equation on a whiteboard

August 2022 update

Maths is such a valuable career and life skill, and the aim of the Maths Gym is to provide additional expertise and encouragement to all Heriot-Watt students in achieving their maths-based goals, no matter what they are studying. The Maths Gym is a physical space at our Edinburgh and Dubai campuses where students can book one-to-one support appointments or attend drop-in sessions and workshops. The service is also available through trained volunteers in Malaysia, and online to all students across the university. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the project is already providing valuable support to students.

Making a difference to our students around the world

Abigail Duncan

The initiative has already brought fresh understanding, confidence, and progress to hundreds of students like Abigail, currently in her second year at Heriot-Watt, studying Actuarial Science.

“After struggling throughout first year and the beginning of second year with online learning, I discovered the Maths Gym,” she says.

“It has completely changed my outlook towards my degree and future, providing invaluable one-to-one help in a very supportive environment. I was close to dropping out but am now looking forward to continuing my degree with the Maths Gym support alongside.”


Another student to feel the benefit is Srivathsan, in his second year studying Architectural Engineering.

“I had a history of scoring average marks in maths and I was nervous as to how I would perform at university level. But the tutors have guided me very well and were always there when I had doubts."

"The result was that I scored an A-grade in Maths for Engineers and Scientists in semester one of this academic year. This would have not been possible without the support I received. It's a wonderful initiative which will help many students.”

Dr Emma Coutts

Dr Emma Coutts, Director of the Maths Gym

Emma has been the Director of the Heriot-Watt Maths Gym since its inception in early 2020 and is strongly committed to the project through her love of both teaching and mathematics.

“The demand for strong numeracy skills is growing in nearly every profession,” she says. “The world of work has shifted to data-driven decisions, and business leaders are demanding better maths skills.

The need for additional maths support is growing and has been exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic crisis on school pupils. It's also particularly valuable to students from backgrounds where they're less likely to have had a strong mathematical foundation.”

Demand for the Maths Gym

In its first year (2020-21), the Maths Gym clocked up 456 attendances for one-to-one and drop-in sessions across Edinburgh, Malaysia and Dubai. In the first semester of 2021-22, that level of attendance increased by 41% – and Emma has seen a further surge in bookings since lockdown restrictions were relaxed and students in Edinburgh have been able to attend in person.

Donations are being used to expand this work by employing an additional expert tutor, as well as provide part-time employment to students to help with the running of the service. In both Edinburgh and Dubai, undergraduate mentors will be trained to run student-led support sessions for different cohorts.

“We're hugely grateful for the support,” says Emma. “I'm in the fortunate position of being able to see the difference that the Maths Gym makes to students – it helps in so many ways. If people feel like they're struggling, they can come and get some support. And if they feel like they're missing some background information because they come from a non-traditional route into university, it's really important that we're here to make sure they're not disadvantaged. But we're also here for people who are doing well but want to do better. And we're building a community along the way.”

If you’re a student or prospective student interested in knowing more about the project, please contact

Donations welcome

Donations to the 1821 Appeal Maths Gym Project continue to be very welcome. If you know someone who might like to make a contribution, or simply find out more about the project, please contact Andrew MacKinnon.