1. What is widening participation?

At Queen’s University Belfast, Widening Participation focuses on encouraging and supporting people who have the ability, motivation and potential to succeed at university, but who come from groups that are currently under-represented in higher education within Northern Ireland. These groups include young people from secondary schools and colleges, adult learners, students with disabilities and part-time students. 

The interventions are specifically targeted at a number of the disadvantaged groups identified within the Access to Success Strategy.

2. What is our primary goal?

Widening Participation works in partnerships with secondary and primary schools and further education colleges to raise aspirations and attainment with a view to increasing the numbers of people from under-represented groups attending and succeeding at university.

3. Does Queen’s University practice positive discrimination in favour of so-called under-represented groups?

No. Every applicant to the University is treated within a framework of equality of opportunity. Queen’s seeks to recruit students with outstanding motivation, academic ability and potential, regardless of background, and to offer them a very high quality education. Admissions are dealt with in accordance with a clear set of principles and procedures. For further information, please refer to the Admissions Office.

4. What schools do you work with?

The current programmes work with a number of primary and secondary schools in the greater Belfast area. They have been targeted in areas with pupils from low socio-economic groups and low participation areas. After the initial phrases the programmes intend to extend to targeted schools across Northern Ireland.

5. What years do you target?

In primary schools we work with primary 6 and/or 7 pupils. In secondary schools we work with students at various levels from year 8s to more sustained, personalised support to selected AS/A-level pupils.

6. What programmes do you deliver in the Schools?

At primary school level, children are introduced to the concept and vocabulary of University through an interactive workshop (based on the Professor Fluffy Primary Adventure initiative, delivered under licence from the University of Liverpool). For more details see primary schools.

At non-selecting secondary school level, a new initiative is being developed that introduces year 9 pupils to higher education. Workshops are delviered in school around higher education, motivation and goal setting. A new has also been established that works with selected year 9s (2014).

In addition, we work with selected AS/A-level students (approx 50 in total, selected by participating schools) within the Queen’s Academy. For more details see ‘Queen’s Academy’.

Targeted work is also untaken to allow the primary and secondary pupils to develop key skills in STEM. With the assistance of a mentor (Queen’s student), pupils will work in small teams on practical project-based learning activities around a science project.  This work will be delivered in collaboration with Sentinus. Children also have an opportunity to visit Queens and take part in a STEM project showcase to display their work. Have a look at our photo gallery and information on STEM volunteers.

7. How can I get involved?

There are various opportunities to get involved in WPU including STEM Volunteers in primary and secondary schools, student guides (on campus) and subject-specific tutors. For full details see  the 'Getting Involved' Section.

8. What other projects are you involved in?

Work targeted specifically at young males from areas of high deprivation, young people in care and adult learners is ongoing. Further details will be made available in due course.