We know that not all applicants will have had the same educational opportunities. If you don't have the entry qualifications for one of our degree programmes, we might still be able to make you an offer depending on your circumstances.

Care leavers and SIMD20 students

As part of our fair access policy, students who are care experienced or who live in a SIMD20 area are guaranteed an offer if they meet our minimum entry requirements.

If you are care experienced, please remember to tick the box on your UCAS application form. You can also mention this in your personal statement or ask your referee to include this in your reference.

This information is only used to ensure you get our support for students with care experience.

Other eligible Scottish students

If you meet the minimum but not the standard entry requirements we might also be able to make you an offer, depending on your circumstances. This is called a contextual offer and it could be made for any of these reasons:

  • You went to a LEAPS Group 1, Group 1+ or Group 2 school (see more on LEAPS below).
  • You went to a SHEPS school.
  • You live in a SIMD 21-40 area.
  • You studied on the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP).
  • You were a carer.
  • You didn't have the support of a family network (estranged students).
  • You got Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
  • You were eligible for free school meals.
  • You were ill or had a disability that affected your studies (adverse personal circumstances).

For more details, please see our Fair Access Admissions policy.

How a contextual offer might look

For a Higher or Advanced Higher student a contextual offer might be when:

  • You have up to two grades lower than needed –  for example, you needed AABB but we accept BBBB, AACC or ABBC.
  • You have one less Higher than needed – for example, you needed AABB but we accept AAB or ABB, or you needed BBBBC and we accept BBBB or BBBC.
  • We count one Advanced Higher taken in S6 as additional to – not instead of – the Higher taken in the same subject in S5.

This can also apply to Scottish applicants with qualifications other than Highers.

Combining your school, college and work qualifications

You may be able to use your combined secondary school, college and work qualifications or experience to gain entry to the programme of your choice at Heriot-Watt University.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) compares the levels of Scottish qualifications – including Highers, SVQs and HNDs – on the same scale, so you can see how your qualifications measure up against the type of programme and point of entry you are seeking. In addition to this, you need to check with the University whether the content of what you have studied has adequately prepared you for entry. .

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) also has information and advice about qualifications.

School pupils in Edinburgh and the Lothians

If you went to a state school in Edinburgh and the Lothians, you may be entitled to support from the Lothian Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS).

LEAPS aims to promote the benefits of higher education to young people and help prepare them for the transition from school to university or college. Some pupils may find that their family has little or no experience of higher education, and that there have been adverse circumstances that have affected their studies over the years. If this is the case, then LEAPS can help you to find the study path that's right for you.

Mature students

If you are 21 or over in the year you want to start your degree, you will be classed as a mature student. Our entry requirements may be relaxed for you if you didn't gain formal qualifications at school but you can show that you have gained relevant work experience and have successfully completed studies recently.

If you are a mature student with few or no qualifications or out of date qualifications, you can work towards the entry requirements by studying an access course through an organisation like Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP).

SWAP offer access courses at a number of partner colleges and universities in Scotland, which will help you achieve the entry standards required for the degree programme you want to study.