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Pathway Opportunity Programme


When we ask students on Pathway how they feel about their experience on the programme they say it’s ‘challenging’, ‘exciting’, ‘life-changing’ and also helping them to grow in confidence. That’s why it means so much to our supporters and to the University. Your support enables access to higher education and opens doors for young people that previously couldn’t imagine themselves belonging at Queen’s.

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We are committed to ensuring that those who are the most able, but least likely to pursue a Higher Education, have an equal opportunity to do so. Queen’s has established a dedicated suite of Widening Participation programmes, designed to raise young peoples’ aspirations and encourage students from all backgrounds to fulfil their potential with us here at Queen’s.

One of our most successful initiatives is the Pathway Opportunity Programme, or POP! The Pathway Opportunity Programme works with schools across Northern Ireland to provide an entry route to Queen’s for talented young people who have the ability to thrive at Queen’s but need additional support and encouragement to fulfil their potential. 

Once students arrive at Queen’s, your philanthropic gifts allow us to ensure that they are supported financially as they take this next important step in their lives. Thanks to a generous donation from Kilwaughter Minerals in 2017 we have been able to provide every student, who has joined Queen’s from the programme, with a Kilwaughter Minerals £1,000 bursary in their first year. This has helped to meet the cost of accommodation, books, equipment, and the expense of studying today.

We need your help to provide ongoing support for these students as they progress through their degree and for new students in the future. An annual bursary can make a huge difference to their peace of mind - helping to relieve financial stress and allow them to focus on their studies, make the most of their university experience and ensure that we welcome them to their graduation celebrations with proud family and friends when the time comes.

Find out more about how our alumni and friends have supported our Pathway Students in the past academic year:

Pathway Bursary Impact Report 2022-23


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Hannah smiles at the camera with a window backdrop


In 2018, twelve Pathway students were welcomed to Queen’s. From this modest pilot year, over one hundred Pathway students have now joined the University this year. Studying across eight subject pathways and dozens of course options, student numbers on the programme continue to grow, thanks to continued support from Pathway donors and the dedication of the Widening Participation Unit at the University. 

Pathway has helped many students, like Hannah: “From the Pathway Programme I have gone on to become a Lloyd’s Scholar and a Linklaters Scholar, and this year was awarded the JMK Solicitors Prize for achieving the highest mark in Tort Law in my second year. Pathway can open up so many doors to students like me. Without this programme I would not have been given the support I needed to succeed – it’s really changed my life!”  

Simon McDowell of Kilwaughter with students


In 2017, Kilwaughter Holdings Ltd pledged a generous gift to ensure that every first year student joining Queen’s from the Pathway Programme would receive a £1,000 bursary upon entry, for at least five years. We know that living expenses, rather than fees, can become a major barrier to success for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and financial hardship is one of the major reasons students in this demographic may give up their studies. This support, along with donations from other individuals and businesses, provides important financial assistance but in many ways the greatest impact of the gift is the confidence this gives the young people to keep going.

“As a business we understand the importance of providing people with opportunities to maximise their personal potential. We continue to see changing requirements in the workplace and the support of the Pathway Opportunity Programme to help young people to adapt. This new bursary scheme will help to transform lives and open up personal development opportunities for the participants.”


Kilwaughter Minerals

Kilwaughter Minerals believes that background and socio-economic status should be no barrier to success or a higher-level education. That is why, since its inception in 2017, we have been a proud supporter of the Queen’s University Pathway Opportunity Programme - a unique initiative which offers practical and financial support to talented individuals enabling each student to realise their potential. Core to our business strategy is investment in our people and inherent in our approach to business is the belief that the community in which we operate should benefit from our presence.

Over 500 students who enroll through the Pathway Programme will benefit from our contributions. These bursaries not only provide a much-needed financial boost for students to ease the pressure of accommodation, travel, and study costs, but often act as a catalyst to unlock their confidence, self-belief, and aspirations for a better future. As a responsible business leader, we champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace and provide equal opportunities for the workforce of tomorrow. That ethos aligns synonymously with the aims of this programme.

Many of the students at Queen’s today will go on to be leaders and innovators of tomorrow. From board level to ground operations, our team is proud to be involved with an initiative which delivers tangible results and a long-term impact.

The bursary has allowed me to be able to support myself as due to my course and placement, I have had to cut my hours down in my part time job to the bare minimum. This has helped me so much by allowing me to focus more on my studies and worry less about finances. Pathway Student
1st year nursing student
Having that money meant that if there was ever a time that my student loan and grant would not stretch a much as I needed it to, in order to pay for rent in student accommodation and food, etc. It was always there to fall back on which is a blessing in the middle of a global pandemic. Pathway Student
1st year law student

Donors stand with their supported students


“The Pathway Opportunity Programme is a great cause which is dear to my heart and I am delighted to support it, given my own personal experience of being a first-generation student at Queens in the 1960s, from a relatively humble background. Any career experiences and achievements since, I owe to two significant factors – a degree of useful financial support and mentoring support from Queen’s”. Dr. Richard McMinn  

Two pathway students pose together at Riddel Hall


The Widening Participation Unit at Queen’s has a mission to raise awareness about Higher Education at primary school level, all the way through to providing programmes within secondary education and working with care experienced young people. The Pathway Opportunity Programme is a key part of the University's extensive Widening Participation strategy.     

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