13 Jan 2023

Three students from Queen’s University Belfast have been named recipients of the Choice Housing Prize, aimed at supporting students from Widening Participation (WP) backgrounds to achieve academic excellence and to complete their studies.

The Prize, which is now in its fourth year was launched in 2019 and provides financial support to students in order to facilitate the completion of their studies. The three Queen’s students, who will each receive £1,000 in recognition of their academic attainments are Katie Stevenson (Medicine, Health, and Life Sciences), who is studying Dentistry, Patrick Gormley (Engineering & Physical Sciences), studying Physics and Nicole Beck (Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) currently studying for a bachelor’s in politics.

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

Choice Group Chief Executive, Michael McDonnell said,

“This partnership between Choice and Queen’s University has provided much needed support to students who have the motivation and determination to continue their studies but need some support along the way.

“The initiatives managed through Queen’s facilitate broader access to higher education and we are proud to be a part of this commitment to supporting students across the region and where possible, eliminate barriers to education. As a housing association our commitment goes beyond building quality affordable homes, pledging to support the local communities we invest in to allow them to thrive.”

Established in 2013, the Widening Participation Unit comprises the Junior Academy, the Senior Academy and more recently the Pathway Opportunity Programme.  WP students may include young people who are eligible for free school meals or Education Maintenance Allowance, those who are care leavers, or adult learners.

The Senior Academy and 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 support to enable them to fulfil their potential.

The Choice Prizes are awarded to the Pathway Opportunity Programme or Senior Academy students, who achieve the highest overall mark in Level 1, and who will be continuing to Level 2.

Ted Jensen from Queen’s Widening Participation Unit said,

“We are extremely grateful to Choice Housing for their continued support of this impactful award. Prestigious prizes such as these enable us to recognise students for their academic achievements, celebrate their success and support them through their studies.  Financial support is particularly important for students from Widening Participation backgrounds, and we are continually seeking to increase the support available to these students. 

I wish to congratulate the three recipients and thank Choice Housing for their generous support.”

The Pathway Opportunity Programme aims to increase the number of students from under-represented groups who will go on to study at Queen’s. The Senior Academy Programme raises awareness of higher education in post-primary pupils by developing their academic skills and supporting attainment. Working specifically with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, these programmes are open to all and provide insights into university life.