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Queen’s University Belfast’s Widening Participation Unit Reaches Nearly 300 Pupils

The Widening Participation Unit (WPU) at Queen’s has, since Spring 2020, reached nearly 300 pupils across Northern Ireland through its Pathway Opportunity and Senior Academy Programmes.

POP Fleeces

In spite of lockdown and restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the programmes were successfully delivered online by the WPU team and a number of academic Schools. Between the Pathway Opportunity and Senior Academy Programmes, Queen’s WPU is currently engaging with over 286 young people.  

WPU is committed to ensuring that those most able but least likely to participate in Higher Education should have an equal opportunity to do so.

Ted Jensen, Pathway Opportunity Programme Manager said; “We have been very encouraged by the level of sustained engagement between Queen’s and the WP young people, in spite of lockdown and the all the subsequent upheaval of quickly moving the programmes online. As a team, we are particularly grateful to the University’s Schools and academics who supported the programmes at a time when there were other pressures in preparing for 2020-2021. As well as strong and continued engagement, we also received excellent feedback from the young people – a testament to the dedication shown by staff across Queen’s to this important work.”

The Pathway Opportunity Programme (POP) is a two year programme which provides a route for talented young people who have the desire and ambition to study at Queen’s University Belfast but may require additional support and encouragement to reach their full potential. The programme has now been delivered to 240 pupils this year using both Free Canvas and Microsoft Teams. All pupils were able to take part in a week-long programme which included an innovative mix of activities from academics and employers.

One of this year’s Pathway Opportunity Programme participants said; “The Pathway summer school was an amazing experience that has made me very excited to experience university life and hopefully it will be at Queen’s University as I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about it through all the activities. The academic guides were amazing throughout the week to help us do our on-line group tutorials after each lecture. I am very grateful for all the support especially during this difficult time!” 

The Queen's Senior Academy is a two-year programme supporting Year 13/Year 14 participants in non-selective secondary schools and further education colleges to develop their potential to progress to Higher Education. It is currently underway with 46 pupils, with staff across the University allocating time and creativity. Pupils engage in project work that is developing a range of skills that will benefit them for the future.  A 2020 Senior Academy participant said; “I've really enjoyed how versatile the programme's been so far, and how you get to have fun whilst learning.”

Further information on that work of WPU can be found here

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