Moving on from last weeks blog post on the Learning Development Service, this week, we focus on Widening Participation. This is part of Student Support & Development under Academic and Student Affairs (QOL).

What is Widening Participation?

Education starts from an early age. And from an early age, Queen’s University wants to raise awareness of Higher Education in young pupils. This includes raising:

  • Awareness
  • Aspirations, and
  • Attainment

Younger pupils may not be thinking about university as a future choice but through Widening Participation, Queen’s University highlights the opportunity and possibility of Higher Education to younger audiences. There are a number of Widening Participation programmes available and aimed at different age ranges of pupils, as you will see in this blog post.

QUB - Widening Participation
QUB – Widening Participation
Meet the Team

Why not stop by and meet the Widening Participation Team. You can read each team members bio in the Widening Participation’s About Us page.

Widening Participation Programmes

There are a number of programmes available for:

Primary School

Throughout primary schools, it is the intention of Queen’s University to raise awareness of Higher Education (HE) to younger learners and that HE is an option as a future life choice. There are programmes available such as:

  • Professor Fluffy, and
  • Reading Together

The Professor Fluffy programme is aimed at years primary 6 and 7 (Key stage 2). It starts off in the children’s classroom by introducing Professor Fluffy and later has a visit to Queen’s University where pupils can explore our Campus and take part in a number of activities around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.

Our Reading Together programme for 7-10 year old pupils, forms partnerships between schools and universities through reading. It supports the development of literacy in this age group.

The aim of the programme is to foster a love and interest in reading and raise attainment levels in general literacy. Reading Together provides a bonding opportunity with a University student who acts as a positive role model for higher education, exposing the children to the wider possibilities of future goals. 

Reading Together, Widening Participation

Not only does the Reading Together programme raise awareness and aspirations of younger pupils, for Queen’s students, it’s an opportunity to mentor younger pupils and to be a role-model.

Credit: Gabriel Tovar
Credit: Gabriel Tovar
Junior Academy

The Junior Academy programme is aimed at years 8-12 and gives pupils an insight into University Student’s lives.

Queen’s Junior Academy aims to raise awareness and aspirations amongst those who are most able but least likely to continue to Higher Education. We deliver a range of workshops, both school and campus based, to selected partner schools across Northern Ireland. 

Junior Academy, Widening Participation

There is opportunity here for pupils to have campus tours and subject taster days before focusing on exam preparation at school. The Junior Academy Sports also aims to raise aspiration and attainment by using sport as a way to foster early engagement with Queen’s University Belfast. Through these university tours and experiences, pupils can make better decisions through their experiences of the University.


The Queen’s University Widening Participation Unit works with Post-16 Students with the aim of raising their aspirations to attend University, their awareness of the benefits of Higher Education and boosting their attainment to progress on to Higher Education.

Our Post-16 Programmes focus on students who are in Year 13 and 14 (or those who are in a 2-year Level 3 or A Level equivalent course at a Further Education Institution).

Post-16, Widening Participation

There are Senior Academy and Pathway Opportunity programmes available. These programmes promote independent study and participants are encouraged to be responsible for their own learning and of develop skills. This helps prospective students manage their time more effectively. And, the programme gives students opportunity to learn about and experience a little of university life.

QUB - McClay Library
QUB – McClay Library
I’m a parent/guardian, where can I find out more information?

As a parent or guardian, you may have questions about finance, general university information, accommodation, programmes, degree choices, etc. You can find much information on the Information for Parents/Guardians page.

Next week

Next week, we will look more Intranet options on Queen’s Online and Careers, Employability and Skills (Academic & Student Affairs).

Remember, the DigiKnow blog posts are released at noon on a Monday.

Please do join us then to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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