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Information for Teachers

‌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/advisor in a school, college or other organisation 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 organise a live or pre-recorded webinar for your school, college or other organisation to showcase the Pathway Opportunity Programme to eligible students, please contact us on 028 9097 5020 or email 

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 6 GCSEs (or equivalent acceptable to the University**) at grades A*-C, including English Language, of which 5 of your GCSE grades must be at grade B or above. 

*A combination of A-levels and BTEC/ OCR Level 3 qualifications will be considered as per the table below which is provided for guidance based on the current entry requirements. It is important to note that for Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy courses Level 3 BTEC, OCR and other non A-Level qualifications are not acceptable in meeting the A-Level requirement.

**In meeting the GCSE (or equivalent) requirement for the Pathway Opportunity Programme please note that the 5 GCSE B's requirement can be met by BBBBB but can also met by ABBBC or AABCC when we use "averaging" of an A and a C and please note also that a C* is not considered equivalent to a B in meeting this requirement. The University will accept a maximum of one non-GCSE qualification at Level 2 which can, in itself, be equivalent to up to 4 GCSEs, where a Distinction*/Distinction is equivalent to an A, Merit is a B and Pass is a C. As for Key Skills, ASDAN Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (COPE), Open College Network (OCN and OCN NI) or Princes Trust, the University acknowledges that development of transferable skills is an important aspect of both school and university education and students are encouraged to develop these whether or not it is through a formal qualification. However, the University will not consider them in satisfying the GCSE requirement for the Pathway Programme.


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 the postcodes that meet the criteria click Pathway - Postcode Checker 2024).
  • Applicant is a Newcomer, a Refugee or an Asylum Seeker
  • If the applicant is care experienced or currently in the care of a Health and Social Care Trust (e.g. Foster Care, Residential Care, etc.), 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.

Students applying with Asylum Seeker status may be limited to the courses for which they can apply and the benefits they receive from the programme.

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

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


Teacher teaching students
How do I ensure my student's postcode meets the criteria?

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 (using ctrl+F and include the space in the middle) and determine if their postcode meets the postcode eligibility criteria of Section B. If their postcode does NOT meet the eligibility criteria, they MAY STILL be eligible for one of the other Section B criteria.

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

Pathway - Postcode Checker 2024


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Teacher teaching students
How do I provide a reference for my students?

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 soon after the submission of the students' application with a link to an electronic reference form. The form cannot be saved so please read through it, collect the necessary information and then complete and submit the form in one go. We recommend you complete it as soon as possible but it must be returned by the deadline of Monday 6th November 2023.

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 Belfast (

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