Estranged students


An estranged student is defined as "someone who no longer has the support of their family due to a breakdown in their relationship which has led to ceased contact. This might mean biological or adoptive parents or wider family members who have been responsible for supporting a student in the past".

If you are unsure if this applies to you, please contact us for further advice. 

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

Types of support

We recognise that students who are estranged are under-represented in higher education and are committed to offering support for you to study at Heriot-Watt. We can provide access to the advice, guidance, financial support and accommodation required to help you succeed at university. We offer a named point of contact and support within the University, from pre-entry advice to support throughout your time with us.

Remember you can make use of our support as much or as little as you wish.

How we can support you

Dedicated contact

Estranged students have a dedicated point of contact to support them throughout their time at university. Contact Emma Smail, Student Wellbeing and Transition Adviser,

Financial support

If you are estranged, you are eligible to apply for our Heriot-Watt Access Bursary. Students who are awarded an access bursary receive a total of £1,000 for each year of their undergraduate studies.

Students who are estranged are also eligible for support towards travel costs for each year of their undergraduate studies.

In addition, estranged students are given priority access to hardship funds and emergency funding from our Student Union Advice Hub if needed. You can access one-to-one financial advice from our drop-in service in the Student Service Centre. The drop-in service is available Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm. 

You can get more information about financial support for estranged students from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). Other student finance agencies may also have support specifically for students who are estranged. Make sure you check to find out everything you are entitled to.
Get Ready for Success
We encourage estranged students to take part in Get Ready for Success, a three-day event that takes place prior to Welcome Week and which helps students prepare for starting at Heriot-Watt
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 during your time in halls.
Advice and support

If you are already a student at Heriot-Watt, you can also contact Emma Smail, Student Wellbeing and Transition Advisor (Edinburgh campus) or Gillian Mclaughlin, Student Advisor (Scottish Borders campus).

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 or Gillian as above.

The Stand Alone Pledge
The University has signed the Stand Alone Pledge to continually improve the support for current and future Heriot-Watt students who experience estrangement at any time of their University experience.

Key information

Emma Smail

Job title
Student Wellbeing and Transition Advisor

Gillian McLaughlin

Job title
Student Wellbeing Advisor (SBC)