Beyond School

Linking universities with schools to support language learning.

School-university liaison

"The Working Group recommends that [...] languages departments in universities play a greater role in working with schools."

Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 Approach (Scottish Government, 2012)

SCILT school/university liaison

SCILT runs a range of programmes to foster links between schools and universities. These programmes give university students the chance to engage with their younger peers, offering school learners insight and inspiration into where their language learning journey might take them and raising aspirations about the opportunities open to them beyond school. Students participating in these programmes can hone their leadership and employability skills and gain useful volunteering experience for future job applications and interviews.

Language Explorers Scotland

Language Explorers Scotland (previously known as Scotland's Languages Explorer's Programme - SLEP) is a mentoring programme that has a proven track record in raising awareness amongst secondary age learners of the far-reaching benefits of language learning. The programme consists of a short series of mentoring sessions led by university students with lived experiences of language learning and multiculturalism. It aims to win hearts and minds of young people by giving them time to explore the bigger picture of language learning with a trained, supportive student mentor. Similar schemes running in other home nations have led to an increase in the number of learners continuing with languages into higher levels of study.

The Language Ambassadors Programme

From 2023-24 the programme consists of interactive online sessions led by student Language Ambassadors from universities across Scotland. These sessions are designed to promote languages to young people and to encourage them to choose languages as part of their learning experience by hearing directly from near-peer role models. Our Language Ambassadors are students of various languages on a range of degree programmes who are keen to share their experiences of learning languages and discovering new cultures with learners across the country. Discover more on our Language Ambassadors Programme webpage. 

Moving forward with Languages

Building on the success of the “Moving Forward with Languages” workshop series, SCILT has teamed up with languages departments from universities across Scotland to run not one, but two language conference days specifically for Higher and Advanced Higher language learners and their teachers!

Registrations will open in August for the first conference day, which will take place on Wednesday 11th September at the University of Strathclyde. The second conference day will take place in early December and the date will be confirmed early in the new session.

Both conference days will feature an in-person programme for those who can attend physically, and a separate online programme for those who would like to attend virtually. Workshops will cover a range of languages, and learners will have the chance to gather advice and tips on the languages that they are learning right now and get a flavour of what it is like to study languages at university level.

Please register your interest if you would like to receive more information about these conferences after the summer break.

School support activities from Scottish further and higher education establishments

School pupils who find their chosen language qualification is not offered in their school can study their NQ language course online for free with Edinburgh College. The following options are available:

National 5: French, German and Spanish.

Higher and Advanced Higher: French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Exam arrangements: Though enrolled with Edinburgh College, pupils still sit their exams at their own school (including the Adv Higher speaking exam).

These online courses can be accessed across Scotland and all Scottish school pupils qualify for a full fee waiver. See the online modern languages course flyer for more information.

Heriot-Watt University's Multilingual Debate is an annual event with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages.

The Multilingual Debate stimulates an interest among young people in the international politics and social issues of the modern world whilst also setting language acquisition in a realistic context.

The audience is mainly made up of pupils coming from Scottish and English secondary schools, but also university undergraduate students considering entering the interpreting profession, as well as government and local authority representatives.

The university's SCHOLAR platform offers online courses for Scottish schools and colleges aligned to the SQA curriculum at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher level.

The Heriot-Watt recruitment team also offers a range of services for teachers and careers advisers, aimed at supporting staff and pupils through every stage of the transition from school to university. For more information visit the school and college visits webpage.

The Open University's Young Applicants in Schools Scheme (YASS) gives S6 students in Scotland the unique opportunity to study a range of university level modules in school alongside their other studies. YASS is designed to bridge the gap between school and university, college or employment and helps motivated students stand out from the crowd. It encourages independent learning and builds confidence. Key skills like time management and accessing electronic resources are developed. Registration for YASS modules, which include a range of language options, is organised through the school.

The University of Strathclyde Language Ambassador Programme offers the opportunity to book in-person visits from student role models to promote modern languages to young people, and encourage them to choose languages as part of their high school curriculum. As role models, the ambassadors will share their experiences and their successes; they will also be honest about the challenges they faced studying a modern language.

To book an in-person visit please contact

The School of Modern Languages regularly hosts Languages Open Days, which have a range of activities on offer from language tasters in all 9 subjects (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Persian, Russian, Spanish and Comparative Literature) and mini lectures to games, songs and films.

Each year the faculty holds 'Meet & Mingle' networking events for schools in Scotland in close collaboration with current undergraduates: pupils are teamed up with language students of different years and given the chance to ask questions about language learning, university life, living abroad etc. while accompanying teachers meet with Modern Languages staff for a frank exchange of experiences at secondary and university level.

The School of Modern Languages also contributes to a range of summer schools and other outreach activities to support pupils and teachers. The School of Modern Languages welcomes enquiries from primary and secondary schools wishing to discuss visits or other forms of outreach activities. To discuss possible outreach events, please email

The university's Literature and Languages division supports schools by hosting pupil workshops and arranging for student Language Ambassadors to present the benefits of language learning and language study at university to secondary pupils. Find out more on their Working with Schools page. The French at Stirling blog also contains a range of posts from former language graduates outlining where their language studies have taken them.

For announcements and up-to-date opportunities for schools from Scottish FE/HE institutions, make sure you're subscribed to our weekly e-bulletin. Register below.

SCILT postcard

Thinking about continuing with languages when you leave school?

This postcard is designed to highlight the advantages of continuing language learning to complement future studies, whether at college or university, and to highlight the options available. It will be particularly useful for supporting senior pupils make choices about their paths beyond school.

Click on the postcard to download it as a pdf.

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University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages