13 Dec 2019

Lawrence Jackson, Group Director of Corporate Services at Choice Housing – one of the largest independent housing associations in Northern Ireland – has attended a presentation at Queen’s to hand over prizes totalling £3,000 to three students at the University.

Choice Housing launched the initiative, which will run for five years in the first instance, earlier this year. It aims to support and motivate students from Widening Participation backgrounds to achieve academic excellence and to complete their studies.

Speaking about the Choice Housing Prizes, Mr Jackson said: “We are very pleased to be involved in this important partnership with Queen’s who are leading the way in providing opportunities for young people who want to attend university.

“Encouragement and confidence play a big part in academic achievement and everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, should have the same opportunities to go on to third level education.

“We hope that through these prizes, Choice Housing can help the individual recipients to succeed in the future and create stronger inclusive communities.”

Welcoming the prizes Helen Surgenor, Assistant Director of Fundraising in the Development and Alumni Relations Office, said: “The University welcomes the generous support of Choice Housing for these important prizes, which specifically celebrate high achieving students who have participated in our widening access programmes.

“It is particularly welcome as the prizes reward efforts across our three faculties, Medicine Health and Life Sciences (MHLS), Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS), and Arts Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS).”  

Andrew Barber from Kilkeel, who is enrolled on a MEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering course, was one of this year’s recipients. “This bursary gives me the opportunity to get more out of studying here at Queen’s, which I greatly appreciate.

“Thank you to Choice Housing for your generosity.”

Choice Housing prizes of £1,000 were awarded to Gavin Johnston (AHSS), Megan Sommerville (MHLS) and Andrew Barber (EPS), each of whom who had achieved the highest overall marks in Level 1 and who are continuing to Level 2, in their respective faculty.   

The awards provide financial support to students who have participated in either the Pathway Opportunity Programme or Senior Academy Programme, key Queen’s initiatives delivered by the University’s Widening Participation Unit (WPU).

Paula Moran, Queen’s Outreach and Learning Development Manager, said: “Thank you so much to Choice Housing for supporting our Pathway Opportunity Programme and Senior Academy students.

 “The prizes are a brilliant way to recognise and reward the hard work of our students who have now progressed to second year, and today’s event is a fantastic opportunity for those students to be congratulated on their success to date and to feel proud of what they have achieved.”

 Established in 2013, the WPU at Queen’s comprises the Junior Academy, the Senior Academy and, more recently, the Pathway Opportunity Programme.

Widening Participation students include young people who are in secondary education and colleges, students who have disabilities, care leavers or adult learners.

Programmes such as the Senior Academy and the Pathway Opportunity Programme target young people who have the ability to attend university but who are least likely to progress to higher education, and provides additional support to enable them to fulfil their potential.

Queen’s WPU works with a wide range of young people, teachers, schools, colleges and parents to raise the profile of opportunities open to those who want to achieve academic success.