The programme is run in partnership between ENABLE, ENU and EY

Date posted

27 October 2023


Students from a pioneering programme to help support young people with learning disabilities into higher education and work have played a part in Edinburgh Napier University’s graduation celebrations for the first time.

Breaking Barriers is a partnership between the charity ENABLE, ENU, and professional services firm EY, offering participants the opportunity to gain an accredited qualification.

Run by The Business School at the University, it helps support young people with learning disabilities make the transition to university and higher education through a combination of supportive study and work placements.

The latest cohort collected their qualification during Edinburgh Napier’s autumn graduations, crossing the stage during a ceremony at this city’s Usher Hall with friends and family watching on.

Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal & Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “It’s really important for our Breaking Barriers students to be a part of our graduations where we celebrate achievements from across the University.The cohort from Enable's Breaking Barriers programme on stage at the Usher Hall with Edinburgh Napier University Principal Andrea Nolan

“For these young people, their achievements have been fantastic. I feel proud of them. I’ve met them all and listened to their stories and it brought a tear to my eye.

“Programmes like Breaking Barriers show people what’s possible. They provide opportunity. It really brings to life what we mean by an inclusive community. One of our values at Edinburgh Napier University is inclusion and so I hope that others will see the types of programmes that we offer, the success of the students that come and the opportunities that are open to them in the future.”

Programme leader Dr Malcolm McGregor, Lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University’s Business School, said: “We are all just chuffed to bits to have the opportunity to work with this cohort. 

“They are all wonderful people and we feel we are doing something very important to support their growth and development not only in terms of academic capability but more importantly perhaps, giving them confidence to make decisions they weren't able to take a year ago.

“I am proud as punch to be supported by a highly experienced and knowledgeable team of academic staff who are all totally committed to making sure the programme is a huge success.”

Breaking Barriers is taught at ENU by Mike Sanderson, Malcolm McGregor, Joan McLatchie, Andy Moffat and Kyle Andrews. It also formed part of The Business School’s successful bid to gain AACSB accreditation.

Seven students took part in the 2022-23 programme, where they learned skills in areas, including accounting and finance, marketing hospitality and customer service, and human resource management. All elements of the 'Applied Business Skills' module are taught on ENU’s Craiglockhart campus, with students then applying their knowledge in a work setting at EY.

The programme, which ENABLE began running in 2018 at the University of Strathclyde, has seen 90% of graduates go on to secure employment or further education and training opportunities in recent years.