More than 60 state-educated pupils from across the UK are to receive £8.2 million in financial aid to attend top-flight universities in the USA, after taking part in a groundbreaking new scheme.
The students, nearly two-thirds of whom come from families with an annual household income of less than £25,000, will take advantage of generous support packages from stateside universities, receiving an average of £138,500 each over four years.
The students are enrolling at 37 different US colleges, and 28 per cent will be going to Ivy League institutions. Three of the students have been accepted by Harvard, three by Yale and five by Princeton.
The pupils are among 150 young people who participated in the Sutton Trust’s US programme in 2013, which is designed to encourage people to consider studying in America.
In recent years, independent-school headteachers have highlighted a rise in the number of privately-educated students wanting to study abroad – largely because the arrival of tuition fees in the UK has removed the financial incentive for staying at home.
The Sutton Trust scheme, organised with the help of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, seeks to open up opportunities to people of all backgrounds.
Under the scheme, Year 12 students spent a week living on campus at either the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) or Yale University and visited other US institutions. The students also received support before and after the summer school, including help with their applications.
Under a previous pilot scheme in 2012, 21 students were accepted to US universities.
This summer, 175 students will attend August summer schools at Harvard, Yale and MIT.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “The success of the US programme has significantly exceeded our expectations and really struck a chord with UK students and schools, as well as American universities.
“These new results are a sign that more young people from low- and middle-income homes are making informed choices about their futures – considering top US universities alongside their UK counterparts, just as those from affluent backgrounds have been doing.
“It is great to see that our US programme has enabled so many more state-school students to access top American universities.”
Gemma Collins, a student at The Blackpool Sixth Form College and the first person in her family to attend university, will be going to Harvard University this autumn. She said: “The Sutton Trust programme was the catalyst that gave me the confidence and resources to accomplish something that was just a dream this time last year.
“The programme has been invaluable, providing me with support, knowledge, experience, advice and encouragement. The friendships and memories I have made will undoubtedly last me a lifetime, and I know that, thanks to this amazing programme, there will be many more to come.”