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From its first incarnation as the Edinburgh School of Arts in 1821 for “industrial tradesmen” to gaining university status in 1966, Heriot-Watt University has always placed an emphasis on vocational learning with a particular focus on engineering, technology and business subjects. The clue is in the name: ‘Heriot’ after the early Scottish businessman and goldsmith, George Heriot, and ‘Watt’ after James Watt, Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer.
Heriot-Watt is ranked 27th in The Guardian’s 2012 university league table and 38th in the Complete University Guide. 77% of its graduates are in employment six months after graduating, with a further 10% continuing on to further study.
Heriot Watt University inhabits a very spacious main campus in southwest Edinburgh. The University is comprised of six schools and one institute: the School of the Built Environment; the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences; the School of Life Sciences; the School of Management and Languages; the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences; the School of Textiles and Design; Edinburgh Business School; and the Institute of Petroleum Engineering.
Notable alumni include: Adam Crozier, chief executive of ITV; Roger Jenkins, former chief executive of Barclays Private Equity; Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs in the Scottish Government; Olympic gold medallist and sailor Shirley Robertson (OBE); footballer Jack Ross; novelist Dame Muriel Spark; and author of Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh.
Heriot-Watt’s huge main Riccarton campus (replete with 380 acres of green parkland) is located six miles from Edinburgh’s city centre.
It has a big library with 716 study places and its own café, top-notch sports facilities, an on-campus Medical Centre and Dental Practice, a bookshop, bank, Students’ Union building, student shop and a Museum and Archive. It’s a very modern campus, and whilst some of its buildings aren’t particularly easy on the eye, this is more than made up for by the surrounding parklands with historic gardens, woodlands, sloping lawns and its very own loch.
The Scottish Borders Campus (home to the School of Textiles and Design and the Borders Business Programme) is situated in Galashiels, about an hour south of Edinburgh. This small campus has undergone a multimillion pound revamp and now houses new studios, workshops, computer suites, a library and a gallery. Heriot Watt also has campuses in Orkney and Dubai.
Students can live on the Edinburgh campus, where there are around 1,600 accommodation places available. Priority is given to first year students and pretty much all first years are guaranteed a place. Self-catered rooms with shared bathrooms can be found at Leonard Horner Hall which has 161 rooms in total. Here, rent comes in at a reasonable £90 a week.
If you’re hankering after en-suite accommodation, there are about 1000 rooms available at Robert Bryson, George Burnett, Robin Smith, Lord Home and Lord Thomson halls of residence. These are priced at a slightly more expensive £109 per week.
There are also 300 new en-suite single study rooms and studio rooms available for 2012. You pay more for having first dibs on brand new rooms and so these are priced at £125 to £140 a week depending on room type.
Most Scottish students will have their tuition fees paid for them by the SAAS. The rest of the UK aren’t so lucky and will be charged £9,000 a year for undergraduate degree courses in 2012/13. The UK government will provide eligible students with a tuition fee loan to cover course fees.
Students from England, Wales or Northern Ireland will receive a foundation bursary of £9,000 to go towards tuition fees if they enter at Level 1. This means that their total course fees for a four year course will be £27,000. In addition, they’ll receive £1,500 to go towards their living costs.
If you’re confused about the tuition fees and whether you can afford university, read this.
The cost of living in Edinburgh is generally more expensive than the rest of Scotland. On average, a weekly budget of £190 to £250 should take care of all expenses, including accommodation, food, transport and entertainment.
There’s a staggering variety of undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships and bursaries available at Heriot Watt University, from academic and income assessed awards, to sports and music scholarships. To find out more about them, click here.
The capital of Scotland doesn’t shirk on the night-life front. It crammed with around 400 pubs and bars, from gorgeous old pubs to plush new cocktails bars. Grassmarket and Cowgates are the liveliest student nightlife areas, whilst George Street has a host of swanky bars frequented by well-heeled students. Town prices are steeper compared to those on campus, but plenty of venues offer special student deals, making it just that little bit easier on your wallet.
If you want to enjoy yourself on campus and don’t fancy the trek into town, the Heriot-Watt University Student Union runs three campus venues. You can kick back and relax at Liberty’s, a café/bar with an outdoor patio; get a pint in at Geordies bar and watch some sport on their huge screens or shoot some pool; or throw some shapes on the dance floor at Zero°, the Union’s main entertainment venue. It’s also the place to see live music and comedy, with past acts including: KT Tunstall, Snow Patrol, The Saturdays, Frankie Boyle, Ross Noble and Stewart Francis.
Heriot-Watt University is chock-a-block with student societies. There are over 40 of them, from poker and brewing societies, to dance, drama and film societies. The Sports Union has 30 sports clubs: from the more usual football, rugby, hockey, netball and basketball clubs, to the more unusual archery, aikido, ultimate Frisbee and snowsports clubs.
The University doesn’t let the side down when it comes to its sports facilities either. It has an indoor football astrodome, plenty of sports pitches and training areas, and two sports hall. If you like your racket sports, it has killer squash courts, badminton courts and three flood-lit tennis courts. Heriot-Watt has the only indoor Golf Academy in Scotland, including driving bays, chipping zones and practice greens.
Heriot-Watt also caters well for fitness fanatics with a busy programme of fitness classes, a cardiovascular gym, a conditioning gym and a strength and conditioning centre.
Heriot-Watt University Student Union puts on a big show for Freshers’ Week. From parties to comedy shows and film screenings, there’s bound to be something to keep you amused. There are various information sessions, inductions and welcome talks to help you find your feet and the Student Union is on hand to help anyone who feels overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) by the whole shebang.
Heriot Watt University’s Careers Service runs a vacancy service to help students find internship and graduate job opportunities. They also offer one-on-one appointments with careers advisers, careers events and workshops. You can get your CV, covering letter and job application checked out or help with your interview and assessment centre skills.