Queen’s University Belfast: Business leaders give disadvantaged students life-changing opportunity

A group of 30 business leaders have joined together to launch a new initiative which will support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to fulfil their potential through a university education at Queen’s University Belfast.

Members of the Bright Future Collective, which is led by Queen’s, are local companies that will contribute £30,000 – £100,000 to Queen’s University’s Pathway Opportunity Programme Bursary Fund.

The Bursary Fund, which was set up in 2017 following a generous gift from Kilwaughter Minerals Ltd, has already made a huge difference to more than 400 students who accessed their place at Queen’s through the Pathway Opportunity Programme, providing financial support throughout their studies and removing the barriers to their success.

With seven companies already signed up as members, The Bright Future Collective is helping to ensure students, regardless of their background, are supported to achieve their potential through higher education.

Professor Ian Greer, Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, comments: “The Pathway Opportunity Programme has made a huge difference to hundreds of talented young people, who are least likely to attend higher education, because of their background. For many of these students, living expenses can become the major barrier to their success.

“I am delighted to launch the Bright Future Collective and we are looking forward to engaging with many more local businesses as we progress with the initiative. The contribution of the Collective will help us to create life changing opportunities for determined young students. The initiative is a shining example of what can be achieved when industry and higher education work together for the economic benefit of the region and beyond – the benefits to wider society are immeasurable.”

Michelle Edwards is a Queen’s Law student and a Pathway Opportunity Programme participant. She says: “University had always been a dream of mine but living in an area of socio-economic deprivation, I had always been doubtful of how that dream could be financially attainable. Thanks to the Pathway Opportunity Programme and the generous bursary it provided me with, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. My first year of university was not filled with anxiety over my finances, allowing me to concentrate on my studies and enjoy my time at university.

“The experiences that I gained through the Pathway Opportunity Programme are ones that I will draw upon throughout my education, career and further afield.”

Andrew Wilson, Senior Associate, Allen & Overy Belfast, comments: “We are delighted to support the Bright Future Collective. At Allen & Overy, we are committed to helping young people reach their full potential. Not everyone has the same opportunities in life or the same access to education, but we believe that by working together, we can make a significant contribution and help to change the lives of young people. We look forward to working with those students who could be under-represented, and supporting them during their time at Queen’s University.”