University community raises more than £4m to support underrepresented students enter HE



1821 appeal
Above image shows the 1821 Appeal project leads

More than £4 million has been raised by Heriot-Watt's international community of alumni and supporters to help students achieve their potential regardless of their background, ethnicity, disability or gender.

Donors from Heriot-Watt's alumni association, The Watt Club, staff members, and friends of the University raised an incredible £4.3 million in just over a year, as part of the 1821 Appeal. The money will be spent on projects in each of its major campus locations in Malaysia, Dubai and Scotland.

Launched in June 2021 with the original target of £4 million, the 1821 Appeal aims to widen access to education at Heriot-Watt by providing financial, career and skills support to disadvantaged students.

Lord Vallance of Tummel, Chair of the 1821 Appeal Board, praised the fundraising effort and spoke of the enormous benefits to future students. He continued: “University education shapes lives. It broadens horizons, raises aspirations and enriches our futures – it can be truly transformational.

"Education has certainly shaped and enriched my own career and life and I have always tried to pay that back in one form or another.  That is why I am so passionate about ensuring everyone has these same opportunities.

"Thanks to the generous response of our alumni donors, we can now support many more students entering higher education.”

The 1821 Appeal was launched as the cornerstone event of Heriot-Watt's 200th anniversary celebrations. More than 480 donors from countries including Malaysia, Canada, Australia and the UAE, contributed over the fundraising period, which closed on 21 August 2022.

It has enabled eight separate projects to be launched and run across the University's global campuses leaving a legacy of supported pathways into higher education. 

Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Heriot-Watt University, today spoke of the 1821 Appeal and its transformational impact.

“We were founded 200 years ago, through public subscription, to give education and career opportunities to under-represented groups of people, and we are proud to be continuing in that tradition today,” he said.

“Our staff and students have been so encouraged by the generosity of those who have supported the campaign. Our community has come together to make this possible, reaching out to potential donors in every country we operate in, and to alumni in many countries beyond that.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our colleagues who have worked so hard to achieve the target, especially those for who fundraising is not usually a part of their everyday activity. In addition, I would like to thank the hundreds of donors. Our vision has always been to bring together the best minds, from all backgrounds, to learn, share and collaborate, in order to change the world for the better. The 1821 Appeal reframes our future, facilitating the expansion of targeted scholarships, and essential advocacy and support for under-represented students.”

The eight projects are:

Mary Burton Project – Increasing women's participation in STEM

Black Voices Project – Advocacy and support for Black and Ethnic Minority Students.

Deaf and BSL Project – Providing opportunities for Deaf and BSL students.

Maths Gym Project – Boosting mathematical confidence and skills.

Career Ready Partnership – Providing transformational opportunities for young people.

Project Malaysia – Increasing access for disadvantaged students in Malaysia.

Project Dubai – Increasing access for disadvantaged students in Dubai.

Denis Goldberg Scholarship Programme – Providing opportunities for Southern African postgraduate students


Craig McManamon

Job title
Communications officer