Maths Gym Project

Two students or colleagues work on an equation on a whiteboard

Boosting confidence and skills in maths to ensure every student succeeds

The Maths Gym is a much-needed free maths support pilot at Heriot-Watt University that launched in 2020. This project will expand its scope to a wide-reaching and responsive international support service. We pledge to ensure the Maths Gym is available to support any student, at any campus, in any time zone, on any programme.

The growing demand for strong numeracy skills

The demand for strong numeracy skills is growing in nearly every profession. As the world of work shifts to data-driven decision-making, business leaders are demanding better maths skills. They need graduates with the ability to interpret data and apply quantitative skills. This is particularly important for students of all ages from backgrounds where they are less likely to have a strong mathematical foundation before joining Heriot-Watt. This includes mature students and young people who have not had access to a strong mathematics education in school. Given the impact of the pandemic on school pupils, this is more needed than ever before.

That is why we have piloted our ‘Maths Gym’: a flexible, free mathematics support centre outside of students’ standard courses, designed to increase the mathematical confidence and skills of any student who needs it. Since the pilot, significant progress has been made by delivering drop-in sessions, 1-2-1 appointments, workshops and online materials. Between February and November 2020, 2857 interactions with the Maths Gym were recorded. Instructional videos received a very high number of views, demonstrating the need for self-help resources to ensure that our all of our students, no matter their mathematical background, can thrive.

This support encourages students to take full advantage of the diverse opportunities of the data revolution. Boosting mathematical confidence in this way is an urgent priority to help all our students to succeed.


To ensure the lasting impact of the Maths Gym and consequently the confidence, skills and success of all our students, this project will:

  • Provide new members of staff to boost the global provision of the Maths Gym services,
  • Extensively develop our online resources and improve the website and Virtual Learning pages,
  • Extend the support teaching hours offered to meet the healthily growing demand for the unique support of the Maths Gym.
Dr Emma Coutts

Dr Emma Coutts

"We have created our Maths Gym to be an open, safe, inclusive space, capable of enabling any student whatever subject they may be studying. Through it, we provide bespoke solutions that make a real difference, ensuring every student can develop the particular maths skills they need to succeed.

"Through my interactions with students in the Maths Gym, I witness how our support helps students to progress, particularly those who have accessed our courses through non-traditional and widening access routes who may find the transition to university-level maths more demanding. I see our impact going beyond just boosting ‘technical’ maths ability – maths skills encompass critical, logical and detail-oriented thinking, and that is super useful for problem-solving in general.

"We are building confidence for success and that can be life-changing for our graduates.

"The demand for our service since piloting in 2020 has been significant. Now we are ready to significantly invest in the expertise and resources that underpin the effectiveness of the Maths Gym to deliver even more support."

Dr Emma Coutts, Director of the Maths Gym

Our ambitions for impact

Our ambition is to build its current capacity into a uniquely wide-reaching and responsive support service – across time zones and for every student who needs it. This will give all of our students the mathematical skills and confidence that will give them the edge as they begin their career.

I came straight from sixth year to studying Actuarial and Financial Mathematics and found it quite hard. The Maths Gym became my saving grace! The one-to-ones were really helpful and I now feel much more confident.

Rose Easton, Actuarial and Financial Mathematics student

I always found Maths to be my most challenging subject at college and throughout my second year at Heriot-Watt I regularly used the Maths Gym to help with engineering mathematics. It is an excellent resource: the quality of the tutoring and help is second to none.

Jack Birt, Mechanical Engineering student

You can make a difference

With your support, we can boost the next generation's maths skills and confidence around the world.

Fundraising target: £120,000

  • A £30,000 donation will support the Maths Gym’s development for one year, providing more hours of student support and tailored learning materials for students worldwide,
  • 100 kind graduates giving £25 per month will support the maths gym’s development for one year.

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

How to give