Inter-campus mobility at Heriot-Watt University

Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

With campuses in Scotland, Dubai and Malaysia, Heriot-Watt University offers students the unique opportunity to spend time studying abroad at one of its global campus locations. Course content, assessment methods and examinations are the same at each campus, offering students a seamless transition between their studies.

Background to Inter-Campus mobility at HWU

Heriot-Watt’s first global campus opened in Dubai International Academic City in 2005, and in 2014 this was followed by a campus in Putrajaya, Malaysia. In 2015, Heriot-Watt formalised its outward mobility offer with the launch of its Go Global programme. Since then, students have been encouraged to take part in an Inter-Campus Transfer during their studies, and participation has increased from approximately 40 students in 2015–16 to an anticipated 400 in 2019–20.

Whilst this growth is impressive, Heriot-Watt wants to make Go Global inclusive to all students and recognises that not every student is able to transfer their studies abroad for a semester or year. Therefore, in addition to the regular Inter-Campus Transfers, Heriot-Watt launched short-term mobility opportunities of approximately two weeks. There are a number of Go Global Travel Awards each year, funded by alumni donations. A proportion of the funds are set aside to support these shorter mobility trips.

The annual short-term trips began in 2016 when Heriot Watt hosted students from the Malaysia Campus to spend two weeks in Edinburgh. This year, a project was developed to enable a group of students from the Scottish Campuses to travel to Malaysia, to coincide with the inbound visit. Funding was secured from the Go Global Travel Fund and the university’s Santander Mobility Grant Fund, allowing the university to provide eligible students with fully funded trips. 

A fully-funded trip to the Malaysia campus to attend classes, along with a programme of activities, was offered to students who may not otherwise have the opportunity or confidence to take part in an Inter-Campus Transfer. The trip was offered to second- and third-year Scottish-domiciled students in receipt of a Heriot-Watt Access Bursary. The eligibility criteria for this bursary consists of a number of widening participation priorities including SIMD20 postcodes, care experience, mature students and entry from associate colleges.

Overall, 13 students registered their interest in the programme, with 12 making the trip to Malaysia in January 2019.

The short-term trip

Staff in Edinburgh and Malaysia worked together to arrange academic timetables, travel and accommodation. Class schedules ensured that the students would attend the mandatory classes for their degree programmes. Accommodation was arranged at the university residences so that students could stay together, along with students from the local campus. The students travelled to Malaysia together, were met at Kuala Lumpur Airport and dropped off at their accommodation.

With support from Heriot-Watt University Malaysia’s Student Success Advisor and student volunteer ‘buddies’, the students enjoyed two weeks, starting with a couple of free days to explore on their own, and acclimatise to the time zone and hot weather. Tours were organised by the Malaysia Campus around the cities of Kuala Lumpur and Melaka. Studies commenced with school inductions, a full campus tour and classes.

Feedback reports from the participants revealed how positive the impact of the trip has been on them, with phrases such as ‘life-changing’, ‘great friends for life’ and ‘experience has forever changed me’ being used to describe their journey. Some participants have already applied for a longer term Inter-Campus Transfer beginning in September 2019 – something that the students may not have considered before the trip

After the success of this pilot group Heriot-Watt are now securing the funding to make this an annual event.

Steve Watson, Head of the Global Student Office, Heriot-Watt University

Carole Bold, International Marketing Manager, Heriot-Watt University

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