STUDENTS with learning disabilities across Glasgow are being encouraged to apply for the opportunity to enrol at Strathclyde Business School, after over a third of graduates from the pilot programme went on to employment or further study.

The Breaking Barriers partnership between charity ENABLE Scotland, Strathclyde University and Scottish Power offers 18-21-year-olds who have learning disabilities the chance to study for a Certificate in Applied Business Skills. The eight-week programme incorporates classroom-based learning, digital and social media marketing skills training, people management and customer service, and an eight-week job placement.

According to ENABLE Scotland, last year only 56 pupils with learning disabilities went on to higher education in Scotland, a little over one in 10 of those leaving school, compared with 40 per cent of all school leavers who go to university.

The charity says that Breaking Barriers is the first programme of its kind for the people it supports. It follows the charity’s award-winning #IncludED in the Main campaign and report which set out a roadmap to inclusion for every pupil who has a learning disability. The report found that 41 per cent of pupils who have learning disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorders felt they did not get support to think about and plan their future when they finished school.

Theresa Shearer, chief executive at ENABLE Scotland said the Breaking Barriers programme is a ground-breaking development for those with aspirations to attend university.

She said: "Not enough people with learning disabilities think it is possible to study at university, and sadly not enough people tell them it is possible. Our graduates have shown that young people with learning disabilities can achieve incredible things when offered the opportunity and we hope many more will follow in their footsteps.

"Attending university isn't just about learning, it is a passage into adulthood. Young people get the chance to try new things, have relationships and make lifelong friends.

"It is a fast track to independence, but it is something too few people with learning disabilities are aspiring to and that's because we are not showing them that it is possible.

“Our hope is that one day, every person with a learning disability will be able to say that they are achieving their full potential. Each of our inspirational graduates have truly broken barriers and we look forward to welcoming the next group of students.”

Applications are currently being received for the 2018/19 Breaking Barriers programme. Applications are available from