Heriot-Watt University


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The Independent Online


Overall ranking: Came 37th out of 126 in the Complete University Guide for 2016.

History: Began as the Edinburgh School of Arts in 1821 aimed at "industrious tradesmen"; became the Watt Institute and the Edinburgh School of Arts in 1852; then Heriot-Watt College; and in 1966 it was given a Royal Charter when the university moved to Riccarton in the West of Edinburgh.

Address: The main campus is six miles from the centre of Edinburgh, with the additional Scottish Border campus at Galashiels, and a small campus on Orkney. A campus opened in Dubai in 2005. Heriot-Watt University Malaysia is also open for business and will be taking in its first full cohort of students this September in a new purpose-built green campus.

Ambience: Strikingly modern. Its main campus, completed in 1992, is in the West of Edinburgh and boasts 380 acres of green parkland.

Who's the boss? Professor Steve Chapman is principal and vice-chancellor.

Prospectus: 0131 449 5111 or order one here.

UCAS code: H24

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Depends on the course but there’s a widening participation policy. Admissions tutors will look for strong A-level (or equivalent) grades in relevant subjects.

Vital statistics: Boasting 10,880 students studying on its UK campuses, including over 6,000 undergrads and 2,490 postgrads. Over 20,000 students studying globally. The university offers a wide variety of vocational programmes alongside more conventional degrees. Science, engineering, technology, management, languages and textiles are the core study areas. Entrepreneurial skills are built into many of the degree programmes. West London College also offers Heriot-Watt University academic programmes as an Approved Learning Partner since 1993 and in 2012 became an Associate Campus of the university.

Added value: Strong links with business and industry, and flexible, modular courses tailored to commercial needs, especially in physics and engineering. Research in petroleum engineering is rated internationally outstanding. Brand new student residences development. The university is undertaking a dizzying amount of development; including The Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology, a £21m purpose-built research and collaboration centre scheduled for completion in 2016; a £30m sports centre boasting football and rugby pitches and a nine court sports hall; and a new institute partnering with China’s Tianjin University for Finance and Economics, focusing on improving business and cultural links between Scotland and China. The university has also recently announced it will be leading three new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT), providing a CDT for Oil & Gas; Robotics and Autonomous Systems; and Applied Photonics. Keep your eyes out for other brand new courses now on offer. Master of Science (MSc) courses include: Geography, society and Environment; Artificial Intelligence with Speech; and Multimodal Interaction.

Teaching: Came 18th out of 126 for student satisfaction in the Complete University Guide.

Graduate prospects: Ranked 39th out of 126, with 73.2 per cent of students finding graduate level employment.

Any accommodation? Yes- about 1,600 residential places are available, 300 of which are in the new student residences development. For accommodation on the Edinburgh campus, £99.89 per week will get you a shared flat with a shared bathroom over a 40 week contract, including all utilities and fast speed broadband. The university also has new contemporary halls with larger rooms for £142 per week.

Cheap to live there? Pretty average. Private rents locally are around £350 per month for a room in a shared house over a 12 month contract, excluding bills and internet.

Transport links: About half a mile from the A270 Edinburgh ring road. Local buses run into the city 24hrs a day.

Fees: Scottish and EU students are eligible to have their fees paid by the SAAS. New undergraduates from England, Northern Ireland and Wales are charged £9,000 per year for full-time courses starting in 2012. Fees are higher for international students and vary according to the programme of study.

Bursaries: Each year Heriot-Watt disburses over £6m in financial support to more than 400 students. The university has a long list of scholarships available to new students, many of which are course-specific. Visit the website, for more details.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: Good on campus. Centred around a selection of bars and a disco. 24hr buses to the city centre means that a night out in Scotland's historic and cultural capital is never far away.

Price of a pint: The average pint in Edinburgh costs £3.38, but expect to pay a little less six miles out.

Sporting reputation: Not the sportiest- ranked 61st in the BUCS league at present.

Notable societies: The Life Aquatic Society allows students to build autonomous underwater vehicles to represent Heriot-Watt in competitions. Then there's the Yorkshire Appreciation society for pub crawls, tea drinking and Yorkshire pudding eating.

Glittering alumni: Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting; Craig Joiner, Scottish rugby player.

Alternative prospectus: Read some What Uni? reviews and check out star ratings from current Heriot-Watt students for an insight into what life as a student here is really like.