The priority of the University is the health and wellbeing of all its students, staff and their families.

As such, we continue to closely monitor the situation and are working with all relevant authorities across our campuses and taking the latest health and travel advice. For our latest guidance and advice, please continue to read our FAQ’s.

Many of the most Frequently Asked Questions are answered below and are regularly updated.

If you have a query which is not answered here, then you can contact our dedicated call centre which operates from 10.00 - 16.00 (UK Time) Monday to Friday. The phone number is (+44) 0131 451 8899. Alternatively, raise your question using askHWU on the student portal.

Further information for students and staff can be found on the internal sharepoint site.

Health authority advice

Further advice can be found from the following local health authorities:


UAE: Dubai Health Authority

Malaysia: Ministry of Health Malaysia

Daily situation updates are available from the World Health Organization, as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s latest official travel advice.

COVID-19: Information and advice

What is COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a type of respiratory virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world but can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions such as diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.

What are the symptoms?

Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever, a cough, loss or change in taste/smell or a shortness of breath that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing breathing difficulties. Please be aware that these symptoms are similar to influenza and other respiratory viruses.

How does this new coronavirus spread – I’m concerned I could catch it?

As this is a new virus, we do not know exactly how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses can be spread by cough or sneeze droplets. A complete list of coronavirus symptoms can be found on the NHS website

Protect yourself and others:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • only go outside for limited purposes
  • stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people
  • wash your hands thoroughly, regularly and as soon as you get home
  • wear a face covering on public transport (mandatory), in shops (mandatory) and in enclosed public spaces
  • self-isolate if you have symptoms and book a test

For latest advice, see The Scottish Government website, NHS guidelines and https://youtu.be/bQCP7waTRWU

What do I need to know and do?

What are the precautionary measures I should take?

Protect yourself and others:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • only go outside for limited purposes
  • stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people
  • wash your hands thoroughly, regularly and as soon as you get home
  • wear a face covering on public transport (mandatory), in shops (mandatory) and in enclosed public spaces
  • self-isolate if you have symptoms and book a test

For a more information on latest advice see The Scottish Government website and NHS guidelines.

According to the latest guidance, I need to self-isolate. What does this mean and what should I do?
What this means:
  •  you should stay at home, do not attend work, classes or public areas for 10 days, anyone living with you (household/flat) needs to isolate as well for 14 days (further guidance on this can be found here)
  •  avoid having visitors to your home, but it is OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food etc.

you should contact your local health provider to inform them of your self-isolation and receive advice on next steps:

  • In the UK you should book a test.
  • In Dubai you should notify “Estijaba" service at the operation center – Department of Health at 8001717, or Ministry of Health & Prevention at 80011111 or Dubai Health Authority at 800342
  • In Malaysia you should notify your local doctor
  • you should notify SafeGuarding, available 24/7, via the SafeZone Enquiries button or on +44 (0)131 451 3500. 
  • staff members should also record their self-isolation in iHR in line with the Maximising Attendance Policy
  •  if you live on campus, the University will provide additional support for self-isolation, please contact SafeGuarding, available 24/7, in the first instance, via the SafeZone Enquiries button or on +44 (0)131 451 3500.
I am concerened about symptoms I have or believe I have been in contact with someone who is confirmed to have coronavirus (COVID-19) what should I do?

Complete the self help guide on NHS Inform. If your symptoms are getting worse call NHS24 on 111.

I have either a high temperature, fever, a new continuous cough or a loss/change in smell/taste what should I do?
  •  Follow the stay at home advice on NHS inform for 10 days from the day your symptoms started.
  • Book a test through NHS Inform as soon as possible
  • If your result is negative you no longer need to self-isolate, if it is positive you should continue to isolate and an NHS contact tracer will be in touch with you.
If your symptoms get worse or they have not improved after 10 days, phone NHS24 on 111.
This is especially important if:
  •  You are aged 70 or older and have an underlying health condition.
  •  You have heart or lung problems.
  •  You have a weakened immune system, including cancer.
  •  You have diabetes.
You can return to work after 10 days if you are improving and you no longer have a temperature. You do not need to be completely symptom-free to return to work.
I live in a household where someone has either a high temperature, fever, a new continuous cough or a loss/change in smell/taste, and I have developed symptoms during the 14 days of staying at home, what should I do?
  • You must continue to stay at home for 10 days from when your symptoms began, even if this takes you over the 14-day isolation period.
  • Book a test through NHS Inform as soon as possible.
  • Follow the advice given by NHS staff, and continue to isolate until you receive your results
  • If your result comes back negative, you should continue to isolate for the original 14 day period, if your result is positive, NHS Contact Tracers will be in touch with you for further information.
How do I get tested for COVID-19?
In Scotland, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can ask for a test through NHS Inform; where you will be asked a number of questions about your symptoms before booking. If you have symptoms you should only leave your house if you have an appointment for a drive through test, and you must not use a taxi to attend the appointment.
Home testing kits are also available if required. If your result comes back negative, you and your household no longer need to isolate, if your result is positive, NHS Contact Tracers will be in touch with you for further information.
I have been advised by my GP or the NHS that I must ‘shield’, what does this mean?
Individuals who are at increased risk from COVID-19 were asked to shield. If you are in this category you should notify HR. The Scottish Government has announced that from 1 August those who were shielding are no longer required to. Further information can be found here.

Offer holders and prospective students

If you currently hold an offer to begin your studies at Heriot-Watt in September 2020 please see the latest offer holder FAQs.

Offer holder FAQs

Online students

How has COVID-19 impacted the delivery of online programmes?

Due to the very nature of online study, there will be little change to the delivery of our online programmes. Our tutors will still provide online support through our virtual learning environment where you can access your course materials and participate in discussions and webinars.

However, for everyone's safety, we have cancelled all in-person examinations up to June as part of the global guidance on restricting gatherings of large numbers of people.

What if I haven't been able to sit my English language test because of the pandemic?

If your first language is not English, you may still be able to show us that your English is good enough to succeed on your programme.

Please see our English language requirement guidance for more detail.

New employees

I have accepted a job at Heriot-Watt University and I am due to start soon. What should I do?

Wherever it is practical and possible for you to join us on the agreed date, we would love to welcome you! However, each case will need to be decided according to your personal circumstances and the role that you will be taking up.

We have advised our Hiring Managers to contact you and consider with you the following:

Can you travel to the campus from within the UK?
Can you travel to the campus from outside the UK?
Can equipment and home working be set up if required and is equipment available? 
Can online induction, training and pre-hiring activities are completed to ensure aspects like payroll information is uploaded? 
If the answer to all of the above is “yes” then your new line manager will get in touch with HR and Payroll so that your employment can commence.

If the answer to any of the above is “no” or “not sure”, particularly if you require a visa to work in the UK and/or you are not currently in the UK, then your line manager will discuss possible options with HR and Payroll. We may be able to postpone a start date or make other arrangements.

Campus specific guidance

Principal's Coronavirus update


University contact information

Coronavirus enquiries

Coronavirus student helpline (10:00-16:00)

  • 0131 451 8899

Safety and security


  • 0131 451 3500  (24 hours)

Media enquiries

Craig McManamon

  • Media Relations Officer
  • T: +44 131 451 8099

Susan Kerr

  • Media Relations Officer
  • T: +44 7933 701 010

To send an email to the media team: mediaenquiries@hw.ac.uk
Out of hours: +44 7702 961 005

General enquiries

Please note we are currently operating a reduced main telephone service because of government recommendations. For more information, please visit our main University contact page.

Key information

Main reception

  • +44 131 451 3501

Craig McManamon

  • Media Relations Officer
  • +44 131 451 8099

Susan Kerr

  • Media Relations Officer
  • +44 131 451 3242