Students successfully conclude latest Breaking Barriers programme


The fourth cohort of Strathclyde’s Breaking Barriers programme has successfully concluded with 20 students taking part in this innovative learning experience. 

Strathclyde Business School delivers the pioneering Breaking Barriers programme which enables young people with learning disabilities to attend university, achieve an accredited qualification and gain real work experience with some of Scotland’s largest employers. 

The programme is delivered in collaboration with ENABLE Scotland, and industry partners include Scottish Power, Marriott Hotel Glasgow, and now Scottish Television. 

Many young people who have a learning disability grow up believing higher education or even paid employment is not for them, and often little is done to encourage them to change that view. Strathclyde Business School believes that overcoming this barrier is an important step in helping more young people to aim high and aspire to higher education. 

Breaking Barriers raises aspirations and provides equal access to university. As a socially-progressive institution, the University of Strathclyde prides itself on widening access to higher education. The Breaking Barriers initiative is about helping young people with a learning disability reach their potential by giving the opportunity to have a full student experience in a world class university, learning and enhancing their skills. 

The 20 students on the 2020-21 cohort started in January 2021, going on to undertake their Applied Learning placements at the end of April with either ScottishPower or Scottish Television, with the placements finishing in June. 

This year, due to Covid, the Breaking Barriers students went online for both teaching and placements but it was still a successful experience for all involved. The students were supported throughout by an ENABLE Scotland Employment Coordinator who met with them daily and sat in on every class Zoom call and applied learning teams to ensure they had full support and help throughout. 

One of this year’s students was Lucy McKee. She said, “If I had to describe my experience on Breaking Barriers in three words, they would be: life changing, challenging and interesting. This is because I never thought that I would ever get a chance to go to university, but being on Breaking Barriers means I got the chance to be in an inclusive and supportive community of people while I was studying. 

“I got to try new things and meet new people which I probably would not have done without being on the programme and the support of the ENABLE family. I learned things that I never knew before and the support was tailored to make sure I achieved the best I could. Through each stage of the programme I had a point of contact - whether it was Emma from ENABLE, Sarah my student mentor or Marise from ScottishPower, it made feel at ease every step of the way. 

“Coming on to Breaking Barriers was the best decision that I ever made and I fully encourage anyone else thinking about it to join the Breaking Barriers family.” 

One of this year’s students has now been accepted to study for an MBA in History and Classics at the University of Glasgow while another has been accepted to study for a GA in Cyber Security, and others will move on to a new programme ENABLE are running. 

Breaking Barriers has been a great success, winning the Youth Employment Award at the Herald Diversity Awards in October 2018; The Times Higher Education Widening Access or Outreach Initiative of the Year Award in November 2019 and the Spotlight category of the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards in February 2020. This follows finalist nominations for the Scottish Charity Awards in June 2018 and the Guardian Higher Education Awards in April 2019. 

Published: 30 June 2021

Contact details

 Undergraduate admissions
 +44 (0)141 548 4114 

 Postgraduate admissions
 +44(0)141 553 6118 / 6119


Strathclyde Business School
University of Strathclyde
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