Edinburgh Universities: Young disabled graduates from Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh Napier University hosted a unique graduation ceremony this week for a group of students who have successfully completed ENABLE’s Breaking Barriers programme. The groundbreaking initiative, created in 2018, enables young people who have a learning disability to access university life while being fully supported to thrive.

Over the course of several months, a group of students completed an apprenticeship program at Edinburgh Napier University and an internship with the course’s partner company, multinational professional services provider – EY. The course aims to address the widespread lack of opportunities for young people with learning disabilities to enter the labor market. Recent data shows that while 45 per cent of all school leavers in Scotland go on to university, only 8.6 per cent of pupils with a learning disability go on to higher education.

The Breaking Barriers Business Class of 2022 gathered this week for joyful celebrations with friends and family in the River Suite at Edinburgh Napier University, after earning their Applied Business Skills accreditation. One of the students, Gemma, said: “I am so happy to have successfully completed the Breaking Barriers program, it was such a valuable experience and I have gained so much and now I feel ready to take the next step. towards continuing education or employment.

LR Jack, Adam, Gemma, Micheal, Cameron, Adam and Aunonto.

“I used to find school and college quite overwhelming, but thanks to the support offered by Breaking Barriers, I really enjoyed the university environment and the chance to meet lots of new people. It was nice to all come together to celebrate our success with our family and friends.

Theresa Shearer, CEO of ENABLE and co-founder of the Breaking Barriers program, said: “Since 2018, the Breaking Barriers program has been connecting students with learning disabilities to the defining college experience that is a rite of passage. for so many people when it is currently accessible to so few young people with disabilities.

“Breaking Barriers shows how the public, private and third sectors can work together to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in education and in the workplace. Thanks to our partners at the University of Edinburgh Napier and EY, I am delighted to see these opportunities extended to even more young people across Scotland, and I congratulate what I am sure will be the first group of many on the program at Napier.

Philip Milne, EY Partner Sponsor in Scotland for Breaking Barriers, said: “We had the pleasure of welcoming the students to our team for six weeks. As part of their internship, students rotated through all of our core service lines, demonstrated curiosity by asking relevant questions, and most importantly, gained confidence each week. At the graduation event, we heard the success stories of students who had been encouraged by their experience to further their education and find employment – ​​a true example of how breaking down barriers can make the difference. »

Students who have successfully completed ENABLE’s Breaking Barriers program.

Professor Nazira Karodia, Deputy Head of Learning and Teaching at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “We have been delighted to welcome our ENABLE students to our Craiglockhart campus, where our vision is to to be the business school for empowerment, enterprise and employability for all. ”