A programme led at the University of Strathclyde which offers students a route into university and employment has been named as Scotland’s top education partnership.
The Engineering Academy, a collaboration between Strathclyde, partner colleges and the engineering industry, was named Partnership of the Year in the Scottish Qualifications Authority Star Awards, which celebrate excellence in education and training.
Through the Engineering Academy, students take an enhanced HNC at a partner college before joining the second year of a degree programme. It has enabled more than 350 students to progress successfully into higher education.
The Academy is part of a range of widening access initiatives at Strathclyde which aim to ensure that social and economic circumstances do not present barriers to education for gifted students.
Dr Andrew McLaren, Director of the Engineering Academy, said: “As a socially progressive university, Strathclyde admits students who have the ability to learn and study, regardless of background. The Engineering Academy is just one of our many widening access programmes and we are delighted to have its success recognised in the form of an SQA Star Award. We owe a vast debt of gratitude to our partners in colleges and industry and they share in this award.
“The Academy has produced many talented students who have gone on to be successful in our degree programmes. The first Academy students graduated in 2017 and are well equipped to enter engineering professions. We are confident that we will be able to continue this through our hugely successful partnership.”
The Engineering Academy was also Highly Commended in the Promoting Inclusion category of the awards.
SQA Chief Executive Dr Janet Brown, said: “I have been overwhelmed by the dedication of our winners and have been privileged to hear moving stories of learning journeys. Our winners are an inspiration to us all.
The SQA Star Awards shine a light on the incredible support provided to learners by teachers, lecturers, schools, colleges, employers, and training providers, encouraging them to reach their potential, and it is right that we give our exceptional centres the recognition they truly deserve.
“This evening the excellent work of our colleagues in schools, colleges, workplaces, and training centres, and the achievements of young people and adult learners have been recognised, and we are delighted to shine a spotlight on their success.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “These awards are a wonderful opportunity to recognise the hard work and achievement of people across Scotland, and of our education and training providers.
“It is absolutely right that we should celebrate these achievements which demonstrate the best in Scottish education and training. I would like to congratulate all the winners and wish them every success for the future.”
Other widening access initiatives at Strathclyde include:
- the Strathclyde Cares programme – the first of its kind in the UK– which helps students with experience of the care system throughout their higher education journey, from pre-application to graduation and beyond.
- partnership in Scotland’s first Children’s University, which enables children aged seven to 14 to widen their skills and interests, while providing a new and innovative route to further and higher education
- partnership with the MCR Pathways programme, which provides mentoring to pupils who have experienced the care system
- the Trans.Edu project, examining the support needs of transgender applicants, students and staff in universities and colleges across Scotland
- support for students who are estranged from their families through the charity Stand Alone
- the Young Strathclyders programme, which provides specifically tailored, one-to-one support in the process of studying for, and applying to, higher education.
- the Strathclyde Literacy Clinic, based in the School of Education, which improves pupils’ literacy through face-to-face tuition. A large number of BEd students volunteer to take part
- Strathclyde is an age-friendly university which, through its Centre for Lifelong Learning, is one of the foremost providers of education to people in later life. It also runs an Age Friendly Academy, designed to highlight the University’s commitment to the concept of positive aging by offering learning opportunities throughout the course of life.