Heriot-Watt secures Employer Gold Award for supporting the UK's Armed Forces



Armed forces at the Coronation
Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel march past Trafalgar Square during the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla in May. Photo: CPO Si Ethell | UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

Heriot-Watt University has been announced as one of a select group of 2023 recipients of the Armed Forces Covenant Gold Award.

The prestigious accolade is made through the UK Government’s Defence Employer Recognition Scheme and is the highest badge of honour available to organisations who employ and support members of the Armed Forces community. 

The award builds on a Silver Award the University achieved in 2019 and recognises the University’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant. This is a promise by the nation that those who serve, or who have served, in the armed forces – and their families – are treated fairly.

Former members of the armed forces have so much to offer the world – they bring specialist knowledge and skills, including so many transferable skills.

Dr Amos Haniff, Dean of Heriot-Watt University

Professor Mark Biggs, Vice-Principal and Provost of Heriot-Watt, and the University’s Veterans & Armed Forces Champion, said: “I am absolutely delighted and proud that Heriot-Watt has received this recognition for the crucial work it does in supporting reservists, veterans, cadet force adult volunteers, and family members of service personnel.

“We look forward to continuing our work with our staff and students who have ties to the armed forces to make a real and growing difference for them and the communities they serve.”

The University’s forces-friendly policies include offering 10 days leave to reservists for training commitments. Reservists work and train part-time with the Armed Forces whilst often balancing a civilian job.

Heriot-Watt also adjusts job descriptions where appropriate to reflect military qualifications and offers guaranteed interviews to all veterans and service leavers where the essential criteria for the post are met.

Other Heriot-Watt policies include providing tailored advice and information to service leavers transitioning into higher education.

Heriot-Watt supported one of its staff, who is a reservist, to take part in the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla in May. Mark Hamid is an Able Seaman with HMS Scotia, the Royal Naval Reserves Unit covering the east coast of Scotland. In his role at Heriot-Watt, he is Senior Governance Officer and Clerk of the University Senate.

“I actually left my desk at Heriot-Watt three weeks before the big day to begin an intensive drill training package in Portsmouth,” Mark explained. “But that period was only a small section of the preparations which had to be made, working with my team and HR colleagues, in the build up to my mobilisation.

"It was an amazing experience to take part in a moment of history, marching along Whitehall and the Mall with 4,000 other service personnel.  It was great that the University was so supportive in allowing me to take part."

Dr Amos Haniff, Dean of the University and a lead of the University’s engagement with the Armed Forces, said: “Former members of the armed forces have so much to offer the world – they bring specialist knowledge and skills, including so many transferable skills. This is just one of the reasons why we value them so much here at Heriot-Watt.”

Heriot-Watt has partnerships with organisations including the Service Children's Progression Alliance – which focuses on improving outcomes for children from Armed Forces families – and Forces Children Scotland, which supports children and young people from armed forces and veteran families to realise their potential.

Minister for Defence People, Veterans and Service Families, Dr Andrew Murrison said: “I would like to thank all the organisations that have been recognised in this year’s awards. I’m delighted that we have seen so many organisations recognised with a gold award. Their continued support demonstrates the unique benefits and strengths that our Armed Forces community can bring to the workplace.”


Victoria Masterson