Widening participation

We are committed to helping students reach their full potential and welcome people from all backgrounds. We believe that everyone has the ability to succeed and encourage engagement from everyone including those who might question if university is for them.

We are here to help. We work with students, their advisers and carers to provide the support they need. You can find out more about what we offer to particular groups below or just get in touch with our widening participation team who are here to help you find the right route for you.

Widening participation and admissions

We encourage people to find the right route into university for them and are happy to consider a wide range of qualifications. We recognise that that not everyone has an equal opportunity to demonstrate their full potential. For this reason we aim to identify those who could benefit from additional consideration in the admissions process. Our Fair Access Policy means we can consider your achievements in context. As part of this we guarantee to make a minimum entry requirements offer to anyone from the following groups who have the ability to meet the requirements:

  •  Care experienced students – if you have experience of care, remember to tick the relevant box on the UCAS application form. This will allow us to make you a minimum offer and contact you about the support you are entitled to
  • From a priority postcode area, often referred to as a SIMD20 postcode – please see our Coming from School page for more information.

Students from other groups might be eligible for an adjusted, or contextual, offer which means we can offer a degree of flexibility when we make our offer of entry. This applies to the following groups:

  • Students from the 40% most deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland as defined by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD).
  • Students from schools with comparatively low rates of progression to higher education.
  • Students joining year 2 or 3 of a degree after completing an HNC or HND at a Scottish college.
  • Mature students who have completed a SWAP Access course.
  • Students who have formerly been looked after and accommodated in local authority care including foster care (see Support for care leavers).
  • Students with caring responsibilities: anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.

Support on offer

We want to make your journey to university as easy as possible by ensuring you know all the support that is open to you. We also work with a number of different groups to encourage people to think about university from a young age. If you are thinking about university, or want us to help you raise the aspirations of your students, then use the links below. If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with our widening participation team.

There is some support that is available to all the groups listed below: 

  • Check out our widening participation access bursary. All our widening participation students are able to apply.
  • Make use of our ‘Ask a student success advisor' facility. Students who hold either an unconditional firm (UF) or conditional firm (CF) offer from Heriot-Watt can use this one-to-one email-based support service to talk to our student success advisors. They are all recent graduates and can provide you with information you need about the university from the perspective of someone who has recently studied here.
  • Take part in our ‘Get Ready for Success' free event which takes place in the three days prior to Welcome Week. This is a great way to get a head start at University, find out what Heriot-Watt is really like from the perspective of current students, and start to develop the academic skills you will need for study and begin to explore the University and its resources. Contact studentsuccess@hw.ac.uk for more details. We can provide financial support to attend if you need it.

Once you are a university student you can use our student support pages to find out more.

Key information

Widening Participation Team