Students with care experience

One of our care experienced alumni talks about her time at Heriot-Watt

Are you care experienced? 

At Heriot-Watt we define care experience as anyone who has been or is currently in care or from a looked after background at any stage of their life, no matter how short, is defined as care experienced. This care may have been provided in one of many different settings, such as in residential care, foster care, kinship care or looked after at home with a supervision requirement. 

Disclosing care experience 

Heriot-Watt is committed to giving access and opportunities to people who are care experienced and we recognise care experience as one of our widening participation (WP) student groups. By telling us you are care experienced we can provide access to a range of advice, guidance and support to help you succeed at university.  Please be reassured that any information you tell us will be dealt with confidentially. 

You can let us know you are care experienced during the application stage by ticking the box on your UCAS application, emailing wp@hw.ac.uk, by ticking the box during your enrolment or at any point during your studies by emailing studentsuccess@hw.ac.uk.   

How can we support you? 

If you are thinking about coming to university, find out how we can help you. 

Advice and support from your dedicated point of contact

We offer a named point of contact to support you throughout your time at university: 

Edinburgh campus

Emma Smail, Student Wellbeing and Transition Advisor, E.Smail@hw.ac.uk 

Scottish Borders campus

Gillian McLaughlin, Student Advisor, G.McLaughlin@hw.ac.uk 

Additionally, our Student Success Advisors can provide advice from a recent graduate perspective on all aspects of student life:

Edinburgh Campus Studentsuccess@hw.ac.uk

Scottish Borders Campus SBC.Wellbeing@hw.ac.uk

You can also make appointments with Student Success Advisors through the myHWU Portal to discuss any concerns or difficulties you are having at university.

Every student has a member of academic staff allocated to them as a personal tutor who will be a key source of advice, guidance and support during your time at Heriot-Watt.

Ongoing support

We will provide ongoing advice and support throughout your studies. We will contact you regularly via email to ensure you are kept up to date during your studies. We will also offer you the opportunity to chat with us via video call, email, telephone or in person meetings. 

Events

  • Thursday 6th September 2022, 15.00-16.00 - Care Experience and Estranged Students Welcome Event is open to all new and continuing students. Join us for tea, coffee, cake and chats at the Student Wellbeing Centre (Hugh Nisbet Building). Please let us know if you’re planning to come – although turning up on the day is fine too!
  • Wednesday 5 October 2022, 12.30-14.00 - Pizza Lunch is open to all new and continuing students at the Student Union.
  • Thursday 24 November 2022 15.00-16.00 - DeStress and Refresh is open to all new and continuing students at the Student Union.
Financial support

Heriot-Watt Access Bursary

Prior to starting their studies with us undergraduate students can apply for the Heriot-Watt Access Bursary which if successful provides £1000 extra financial support to help students from widening participation backgrounds with living costs.

Heriot-Watt Access to Learning Fund

The Heriot-Watt Access to Learning Fund offers eligible undergraduate students up to £460 to help cover the cost of attending university. This could be to purchase a laptop, pay for WiFi access or travel expenses.

Hardship Funds

Students with care experience are given priority access to hardship and emergency funding from the Student Union Advice Hub if needed.

External funding

Care Experienced Students Bursary

The Student Award Agency Scotland (SAAS) currently provide a Care Experienced Students Bursary. The bursary is available to eligible full-time Scottish domiciled students undertaking an eligible undergraduate course.

Care Experienced Accomodation Grant

If you are Care Experienced and need help with your accommodation costs during the summer holiday, you may be eligible to apply for the Care Experienced Accommodation Grant. The maximum SAAS will pay is £105 a week during the summer holiday.

Other student finance agencies may also have support specifically for students with care experience. Make sure you check what you are entitled to.

Accommodation

The University guarantees to make an offer for accommodation to all eligible students in their first year of study. Please see our accommodation guarantee for full details.

Visit the accommodation webpage for more information.  

Please email halls@hw.ac.uk (Edinburgh Campus) or bordershalls@hw.ac.uk (Scottish Borders Campus) when you apply for accommodation so we can discuss the options available to you. 

Preparing for University

Get Ready for Success 

We encourage you to participate in Get Ready for Success, a three day event that takes place prior to Welcome Week which helps participants prepare for starting at Heriot-Watt. 

Pre-Entry Support Meeting 

New students with care experience will be invited to a one-to-one meeting with their named point of contact over summer to help ensure you have all the information and support you will need while studying with us.  

If you feel that you should have been contacted to arrange a meeting and haven’t received any communication, you can email wp@hw.ac.uk. 

Ask a Student Success Advisor 

A one-to-one email based support service available to students who have either an Unconditional Firm (UF) or Conditional Firm (CF) offer of a place at Heriot-Watt. It is an opportunity to ask a Student Success Advisor by email any questions you may have before beginning University. 

Health and Wellbeing

Student Wellbeing Services  

Student Wellbeing Services aim to provide a range of support, guidance and activities and advice to help students be their best and get the most out of their University experience.   

Safety and Security  

Safeguarding Services and support is available 24/7 on campus, and students have access to our SafeZone app. We also have an on-campus Residence Life team who provide activities and support to help ensure you feel welcome and settled if you are staying in halls of residence. 

 The Active Student Programme  

During your time at Heriot-Watt you might want to de-stress by engaging in sport and exercise. The Active Student Programme is an option available to you to help you get started, where you are entitled to a free 12-week exercise programme with support from an exercise professional. 

For more information regarding referral to this programme please email Emma Smail, Student Wellbeing and Transition Officer (Edinburgh Campus) or Gillian McLaughlin, Student Advisor (Scottish Borders Campus). 

Corporate Parenting

The University has a Corporate Parenting Plan which details our support for students with care experience.  In common with other Scottish universities and colleges, we are reviewing and enhancing our Corporate Parenting Plan which will outline our support commitments for the next few years.  This will be published early in the 2022-23 academic year. 

External Resources

HUB for SUCCESS – Heriot-Watt is a partner institution with the Hub for Success who provide impartial, one-to-one support to help people with care experience get in, stay in or return to education 

Who Cares Scotland – offer a wide range of groups, activities, and events for care experienced people across Scotland 

EaCES Handbook – A site created by care experienced students to summarise all the advice and information available to support students in higher and further education and to share lived experiences. 

This is Us (community) - An online space to bring together estranged and care experienced students and recent graduates in the UK. The idea is to connect and build student-led spaces, so that we can feel a greater sense of connection and belonging.   

Each & Every Child - aims to tell stories about young people in the care system, transforming the current public narrative and mobilising people at all levels in the community to take action to improve their life chances. 

The Promise – This site is responsible for driving forward change by utilising the findings of the care review. They work with organisations to shift policy, practice and culture in Scotland 

Key information

Emma Smail

Job title
Student Wellbeing and Transition Advisor
Email
e.smail@hw.ac.uk