The daughter of a hairstylist and a teenage carer are among 43 British state school students from low and middle income backgrounds who have won places to study at top US universities through the Sutton Trust US Programme, run in conjunction with the US-UK Fulbright Commission, it was announced today. They will join 135 Sutton Trust alumni already studying in the States.

Jack Tait, 18, of Highams Park School in Chingford, has been offered a place at Princeton, an Ivy League university in New Jersey. Jack will be one of the first in his family to go to university and is the first person in his school to apply to US universities.

Kerry O’Neil, who is 17 and from Glasgow, has been offered a place at another Ivy League institution, the University of Pennsylvania. The Notre Dame High School student is the first person in her school to apply to a US institution and will be the first in her family to go to university.

The 43 students, who come from across the country, have won places at 28 different institutions through early admissions, including four at Harvard, four at Princeton and two at Yale. This is a rise from last year when 38 students on the Sutton Trust programme won places through early admissions.

53% of the students admitted early are from households that earn less than £25,000 a year, and 86% will be the first in their family to go to university. Between them they have already been offered $10m of financial aid from the universities over the next four years, meaning many of them will graduate with little to no debt.

More students on the programme will be applying by the regular January deadlines, with results available later this spring. The biographies for all admitted students and scholarship finalists can be found online at:

Although applications to US universities have increased in recent years – there are now over 5,000 British undergraduates at American universities – students from less advantaged homes may not have access to the same level of support and resources for US admissions that their counterparts from fee-paying schools might have. The Sutton Trust US Programme, now in its fourth year, encourages academically talented, low and middle income British students to consider studying at American universities.

Last year, 150 students were selected for a summer school in the US at either Yale University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), spending a week last summer living on campus and visiting a number of other US campuses. For over half of the students, this was their first trip to the US. They benefited from residential activities and received an intensive programme of support, delivered by the US-UK Fulbright Commission over a number of months before and after their US visit, which covered admission tests, college choices and the application process.

The programme is made possible through support from its founding corporate sponsor, Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Their investment is matched by Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing who have generously supported the programme since its launch. The programme is also supported by Jerry del Missier, the London Stock Exchange Group Foundation, Big Change and EducationUSA.

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said today:

“Our US Programme is a life-changing experience so I’m delighted that so many young people from low and middle income backgrounds have benefited from it this year. The 43 talented students will enjoy a broad and varied curriculum and, with generous financial aid packages on offer, will graduate from some of the world’s best universities debt-free.

“I hope more young people will look to their success and realise that a university education in America is well within their grasp.”

Penny Egan CBE, Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, said:

“To have 43 state school students admitted early to some of the best universities in the world is testament to the calibre and talent of our programme participants. The well-deserved amount of financial aid offered to these students means that a prestigious American higher education is within the grasp of gifted low-income students from the UK. We are thrilled by their successes, and I am sure there will be more good news in the spring. This programme transforms lives and the partnership with the Sutton Trust is a great source of pride for the Fulbright Commission.”

Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said today:

“The enthusiasm and drive of the students participating in this initiative never fail to impress me; I commend Sutton Trust for their work in providing this educational opportunity to young people most in need. As part of our company’s efforts to drive youth employment, our partnership with Sutton Trust is affording these talented students with an opportunity that will change lives. I’m very proud to be part of that.”

Applications for this year’s programme close on 20 January and can be completed online (

The US Programme is based on the Sutton Trust’s successful flagship programme in the UK which now runs at 10 leading British universities and has benefited over ten thousand state school students. Applications for the UK programme are also open now until March 2016 at


  1. The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 160 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.
  1. The US-UK Fulbright Commission is a not-for-profit organisation funded by both governments to promote educational exchange between the US and the UK. The Commission offers prestigious awards for postgraduate study and research in the US, as well as an Education USA Advisory Service and is the government recognised source of US study information in the UK.
  1. The Sutton Trust has run UK summer schools since 1997. They offer young people from low and middle income backgrounds in year 12 – mostly 17 year-olds – a chance to get a taste of student life at a research-led university. The programme balances busy academic days with social activities and has been successful in encouraging bright state school students from low and middle income families to study at the most selective universities in Britain. The UK summer schools are supported by Barclays’ 5 Million Young Futures project. The programme is also supported by The Wolfson Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation and Ian Hazelton.
  1. Results from the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 cohorts of students include 135 students enrolled at 53 different universities across 18 states and an American university abroad, accessing approximately $33 million in financial aid.
  1. Developing solutions for social and economic challenges is at the core of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s responsibility platform. In more than 90 countries around the world, we partner with employees, clients and stakeholders to help make financial lives better. The company focuses on responsible business practices, environmental sustainability, advancing opportunity in local communities through education and employability programmes and investing in global leadership development. We realise the power of our people and value our differences, recognising that our diversity makes us a stronger firm and allows us to better service our stakeholders. By harnessing our intellectual resources, sharing knowledge and connecting capital with need, we are providing opportunities that effect positive change.
  1. In 2014-15, the UK became the largest European sender of students to US universities: 10,742 British students were studying in America, 5,207 of whom were undergraduates.
  1. Sutton Trust US Programme 2015 Participants Admitted Early (The biographies for all admitted students and scholarship finalists can be found online at:
Student Name UK School Hometown US University
Valavan Ananthakumaraswamy Queen Elizabeth’s School Enfield Stanford University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Morehead-Cain Scholarship Finalist)
Katrina Arman Invicta Grammar School West Malling University of Pennsylvania
Walid Bajjani Burlington Danes Academy London NYU Abu Dhabi
James Bedford Torquay Boys’ Grammar School Torquay Harvard College
Alisha Blades Lismore Comprehensive School Craigavon Hamilton College
Ibrahim Butt Cardinal Newman College Blackburn Duke University (Robertson Scholarship Recipient)
Georgia Carr Rutland County College Oakham Swarthmore College
Alejandro Carruthers-Hierro Chancellor’s School London Lafayette College
Kirstie Clarke The Bridge Academy London University of Chicago
Jodie Coburn Brinsworth Comprehensive School Rotherham Yale University
Alex Cox Bournemouth School Bournemouth Princeton University
Phoebe Cribb Cardinal Newman College Chorley Bryn Mawr College
Jack Dunn Stranraer Academy Stranraer Dartmouth College
Sarah Edwards Greenhead College Cleckheaton Middlebury College
Alice Findlay Northampton School for Girls Northampton Harvard College
Samuel Fox Beath High School Cowdenbeath Dartmouth College
Benjamin Hopkins Wolgarston High School Stafford Bowdoin College
Emma Humphries Cronton Sixth Form College Widnes Smith College
Connor Keys Portora Royal School Kesh Vanderbilt University
Alexander Laiman Ysgol Dewi Sant Harverfordwest MIT
Nathan Lewis Saint Olave’s Grammar School London Duke University
Alexander Mackie Maidstone Grammar School Headcorn Trinity College
Luke Mansfield The Nottingham Emmanuel School Nottingham Rhodes College
Awnit Singh Marta Greenford High School London Harvard College
Maria McAveety Our Lady’s High School, Cumbernauld Glasgow Skidmore College
Jack McGeehan St Columb’s College Derry Claremont McKenna College
Joe McGrath The McAuley Catholic High School Doncaster Princeton University
Kevin Mokhtar Bishop Thomas Grant School London NYU Abu Dhabi
Danukshi Mudannayake Woodford County High School Ilford Harvard College
Owen Ogden The Nelson Thomlinson School Wigton Yale University
Kerry O’Neil Notre Dame High School Glasgow University of Pennsylvania
Robyn Pattison Dunfermline High School Rosyth Skidmore College
Roshaye Poleon Ursuline High School, Wimbledon London Northwestern University
Carol Rossell Felpham Community College Bognor Regis Tufts University
Katie Russell St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School Glasgow Northwestern University
Ahlbie Squire Bodmin College Lostwithiel Pomona College
Charles Stewart Wilson’s School Purley Brown University
Jack Tait Highams Park School London Princeton University
Bethany Tallis Clydeview Academy Gourock University of Rochester
Sam Weaver Colchester Royal Grammar School Harwich University of Richmond
Rishara Weerakoon St Dominic’s Sixth Form College London Vanderbilt University
Rebecca Wiggins Havering Sixth Form College Hornchurch Pomona College
Conor Wilson St Patrick’s Grammar School Downpatrick Princeton University

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