College students and mature students

College students

College students make up a significant part of our student population and are studying on a range of different subjects across the whole University. The majority of students use HNC and HND qualifications to get advanced entry into years two or three of our degrees but they can also be used to start in year one too. Other qualifications college students typically use to start in year one are listed below.

There is a range of support available to college students and mature students when they become university students. You can find out more on our Student Support webpages. This can include help with finances, childcare and making the transition into university. We have also put together two guides  – one for college students and one for mature students – detailing everything you need to know about coming to university. See the key documents section below.


College to university webinars

Watch our recent subject area webinars on YouTube:

College to University: Psychology

College to University: Civil Engineering

College to University: Business

College to University: Biology

College to University: Architectural Engineering

College to University: Accounting


Mature students

Female student in a language booth


We realise that most of our mature students will need to use college qualifications to get into university. This includes completing HNC, HND qualifications, or an access course such as those run by SWAP. We also know that working out what you need to get, and which qualification would be best, can often be daunting for those who have been out of education for some time. That is why we encourage any mature students thinking about studying at Heriot-Watt to utilise the following: 

  • We are an active member of SWAP East which provides access courses tailored to help mature students progress into university. These courses are designed specifically for anyone who has been out of education for some time and who has few or no formal qualifications. To find the right access course for you; get in touch with SWAP East directly – – or ask us for advice – You can find out more by using the ‘possible degree progressions’ search engine on the SWAP East website. 
  • Pathways is a website that helps you search agreed pathways you can take rom college to degree level study. If you wish to study at a University there are different learning pathways you can take to get there. 
  • Get in touch with us. Our widening participation team will work with you, and the university admissions team, to work through all your options – just get in touch

We also understand that often mature students can have significant relevant work experience as well as qualifications that may be relevant to the degree they want to study. If you can show you have successfully completed some recent study we may be able to relax some of our entry requirements depending on your work experience.

For instance it is possible, in some cases, to get entry into a postgraduate course with a relevant qualification and work experience, for example:

  • HND plus 4 years of relevant post qualification experience
  • HNC plus 6 years of relevant post qualification experience
  • 8 years relevant experience at a suitable level plus either interview or passes in two modules

If you think you have relevant work experience that would help you get into a degree course then get in touch with admissions team to find out more – Each application is considered individually with ability, experience and potential taken into consideration.

Associate Partnership Programme – An alternative degree pathway

In addition to the articulation agreements mentioned above we also have a number of Associate Partnership degree courses set up at local colleges. This means that you study the first two years of your degree at college and the final two years of your degree at university. Throughout your course you are both a college student and a university student and can take advantage of all the benefits and resources on offer to both. You will complete a HNC and HND, and those who successfully complete their first two years are guaranteed a place in third year at university.

These are our partnership programmes:

  • BSc (Hons) Computer Science – Edinburgh College and Fife College
  • BEng / MEng Chemical Engineering – with Forth Valley College
  • BEng / MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering – with Edinburgh College and Forth Valley College
  • BEng / MEng Mechanical Engineering – with Edinburgh College and Forth Valley College
  • BA (Hons) Design for Textiles (Textiles) – with Glasgow Clyde College
  • BA (Hons) Design for Textiles (Weave) – with Glasgow Clyde College
  • BSc (Hons) Fashion Technology – with Glasgow Clyde College
  • MA (Hons) International Business Management, BBA (Hons) Business Administration– through the Business pathway with Borders College