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Three Ulster University students have received scholarships from Choice Housing, one of the largest independent housing associations in Northern Ireland. The Choice Scholarships provide much needed support to those who face financial, social, and logistical barriers to furthering their education.

Choice Housing believe that access to education is a fundamental right, and they are working with the University to try to close that gap on a local level, building more sustainable, inclusive and peaceful futures as a result.

Since the partnership launched in 2019, 12 students have received support from the scheme, which will support up to fifteen students over a five-year period. The partnership is aimed at encouraging those who are less likely to progress to higher education and will also contribute towards creating a fairer society and supporting economic growth.

This year, three first year students have been selected to receive the Choice Housing scholarship.  The undergraduate students, who met widening access and participation criteria established by Ulster University, were each awarded prizes of £1,000.

Speaking about the Choice Scholarships, Lawrence Jackson, Group Director of Corporate Services at Choice said:

We are delighted to be continuing this important partnership with Ulster University at this crucial time for young people in Higher Education.  As part of our commitment to local communities, we are investing in and developing thriving communities, using housing as a foundation for transforming people’s lives.  This commitment goes beyond the provision of housing, identifying the wider need of people and the positive impact they can have in their local communities.

We hope that through these awards, Choice can help the individual recipients to succeed in the future and empower them on their journey through higher education during incredibly challenging times.

One of the winners of this year’s scholarships, Patrick Roe, BSc Hons Computer Science, said:

This scholarship has allowed me to invest more into my education as I was able to purchase IT equipment to assist with my studies. Having this will benefit me massively, and the Choice Scholarship has made that possible which means the world to me.

I am thoroughly enjoying computer science as it has helped me further develop my problem-solving skills, my favourite aspect being programming as it is the most rewarding for me. In the future, I hope to work in a tech firm within the programming department.

I have always been interested in new and emerging technologies and with our world becoming more and more digitised, a career in tech will bring benefits in the advancement of society.

Karen Delgado, Head of Corporate Engagement at Ulster University said:

For many, the biggest barrier to accessing Higher Education is a financial one. Not everyone has the same opportunities in life and the COVID pandemic has further heightened this disparity in personal circumstances often meaning that no matter how able someone is, or how much they want to learn and develop, they simply aren’t able to access or undertake a degree qualification. Without scholarship support their talent, insight and potential as a future employee,  problem solver, leader and employer may never be realised and this inequality of progression to Higher Education will impact the diversity of Northern Ireland’s future workforce.

We are very grateful for Choice Housing’s continued support which has made a life changing impact on many students, supporting them to complete a degree at Ulster University, learn new things, meet new people and kick start their career.