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Pathway Opportunity Programme

Information for Teachers

Guidance on how to support your students with their applications

‌Encourage a student to apply

Whilst many students will be confident to apply directly to the Pathway Opportunity Programme, we are conscious that some students may succumb to the perceived barriers associated with applying to a Russell Group University. As a teacher/mentor in a school or college you will play a key role in helping to identify students who will most benefit from the scheme. If you would like the Widening Participation team to visit your school or college to showcase the Pathway Opportunity Programme to eligible students, please contact us on 028 9097 5020 or 

To be eligible for the programme students must meet all of the following Section A criteria:

Section A Criteria:

  • Applicants must be ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland and be in full-time attendance at a school or college in Northern Ireland.
  • Applicants must currently be in year 1 of an acceptable (to the University) two-year Level 3 qualification such as A-Levels, BTEC etc. *
  • Neither of the applicant’s parents must have attended university nor obtained an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in the UK, Ireland or abroad. However if a parent is currently studying for their first degree or has graduated within the last 5 years the application will still be considered.
  • Applicants must have at least 7 GCSEs (or equivalent acceptable to the University, such as BTEC) at grades A*-C, including English Language, of which 5 must be at grade B or above. *

 In addition to the above criteria in section A, we are looking for students who meet at least one of the following Section B criteria:

 Section B criteria:

  • Applicant is eligible or is currently receiving free school meals (FSM) and/or Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
  • Applicant is the main carer for a family member or dependant.
  • Applicant's permanent residence postcode is classified as being in a “disadvantaged neighbourhood” by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (To check for "high priority" postcodes, click Postcode Checker 2020).
  • If the applicant is care experienced or currently in the care of a Health and Social Care Trust, they are automatically offered a place on the programme provided they meet the academic requirements of Section A: Northern Ireland resident, 1st year of a 2 year Level 3 programme and GCSE (or equivalent) grades.

 Queen’s University welcomes applications from students with a disability or long term condition.

* Applicants are required to meet any specific subject requirements for the course they are applying to. (Please note that for Medicine and Dentistry Pathway, BTEC, OCR and other non A Level qualifications are not acceptable.)

 Students are advised to research course specific entry requirements via our Course Finder on our website ( prior to application.


For the applicant to meet the Postcode criteria in the Section B eligibility criteria, their permanent postcode (as held by the school) must be classified as being in a "disadvantaged neighbourhood" by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

By downloading the postcode checker below, you can search for the student's postcode (include the space in the middle) and determine if their postcode is "high priority" which means they are eligible for the Section B criteria or if their postcode is "low priority" which means they are not eligible for that particular Section B criteria. They may well be eligible for one of the other Section B criteria.

To download the Postcode checker (a MS Word document) please click below:

Postcode Checker 2020

Teachers' Technical References

As part of the student's application to the Pathway Opportunity Programme they will be asked to provide the name and email address of a teacher who can provide a Technical Reference.  We recommend their careers teacher or head of year.

This Technical Reference has been designed to act as a form of verification for some of the information provided by the student especially around their eligibility and their GCSE (or equivalent) grades and A-Level (or equivalent) subjects.

It is NOT a personal reference, however there is an opportunity for teachers to highlight any exceptional circumstances which may have impacted on the student's performance at GCSE. 

If you have been nominated to provide a reference for an applicant, you will be contacted immediately upon the submission of the students' application with a link to an electronic reference form. Please complete it on your computer/tablet, save it and return it by email to  We recommend you complete it as soon as possible but it must be returned by the deadline of Friday 29th November 2019.

Please note that a student's application cannot progress to the final selection stage without a completed teacher reference. If you would like to discuss a reference request further, please contact the Widening Participation team at Queen's University (