Queen’s University’s Pathway Opportunity Programme, which offers guidance and support to encourage progression to University, has received a welcome boost from Antrim-based Kilwaughter Minerals Ltd, one of Northern Ireland’s leading manufacturers.
The Larne company, which manufactures and distributes innovative limestone-based products for the construction and agriculture sectors under its K-Rend and Kilwaughter Lime brands, has pledged to support the University's widening participation initiative over the next five years, with an initial donation of £100,000 in 2017.
Kilwaughter is to fund entrance bursaries – each worth an estimated £1,000 – for the first cohort of Pathway students who will arrive at Queen's in September 2018. Chris McDowell, Director of Kilwaughter Minerals Ltd, who holds a BEng in Manufacturing Engineering from Queen's, said his company was delighted to support the programme.
"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, is important," said Chris.
"This new bursary scheme will help to transform lives and open up personal development opportunities for the participants. We look forward to welcoming the first group of students to Queen's and listening to their success stories, which are sure to follow."
The Pathway Opportunity Programme specifically targets young people who have the ability but are least likely to study at Queen's. Many students face additional barriers in accessing university level education. This programme aims to remove those obstacles and support talented students from all backgrounds, enabling them to reach their full potential.
Part of the University's commitment to promote equality of opportunity and diversity among its students and staff, Pathway Opportunity Programme is a structured scheme for Year 13 and 14 students that includes a series of workshops and seminars both at the University and online, as well as a summer residential. Through attending classes, meeting lecturers and spending time exploring the campus, students gain a real insight into University life. Those who successfully complete the programme will be offered a guaranteed place at the University with up to a two grade reduction.
The funding announced by Kilwaughter will enable Queen's to offer further assistance to the successful Pathway students, as Norma Sinte, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the University, explains:
"Queen's is delighted to partner with Kilwaughter Minerals Ltd on this five-year access initiative that will open doors for so many able local pupils.
"The funding generously provided by Kilwaughter will allow us to offer individual students who gain admission to the University through the Programme a £1,000 bursary to help them fund their first year of studies.
"With the backing of companies like Kilwaughter Minerals Ltd, the prospect of a brighter future through education can now be offered to those who might not otherwise have considered third level education. Philanthropy such as that demonstrated by Kilwaughter makes a real and very positive difference to the lives of our students and, ultimately, to the economy of Northern Ireland."