A new report looks at the broad impact of the Sutton Trust US Programme on participants, including on their ambitions and outlook.

The report, by the Bridge Group, was commissioned to look at the impact of the programme beyond progression to highly selective US colleges. Through surveys and interviews, the report gives insights into programme participants’ experience of studying in the US, the merits of a digitally delivered programme and the benefits of the programme on students who don’t go on to study in the US.

The Sutton Trust US Programme, run in conjunction with the US-UK Fulbright Commission, was launched in 2012 to support state school students to explore studying the US. Each year it gives a cohort of young people a taste of what it’s like being an international student in the US to see if it could be the right fit for you. Participants who decide to apply to a US university receive support to navigate the application and financial aid process.

Since 2012, the Sutton Trust has supported 1500 students through the US Programme. Of those 514 have gone on to study in the US, benefitting from over $125M in financial aid.

Key findings from today’s report include:

  • Across all cohorts, participants reported a highly positive impact of the programme. They were most likely to say that the programme impacted their broader outlook and ambitions and their understanding of US culture, politics and society.
  • Programme participants who decided not to apply to US colleges cited a preference for the UK higher education system as a key reason.
  • Interviewees reported that participation in the programme had a broad positive impact on personal development, international outlook and skill development – regardless of whether they went on to a US or UK university.
  • Interviewees reported life at US colleges as being tough but rewarding, with many interviewees appreciating the freedoms of a liberal arts education. However, participants reported having to navigate issues of racism and socio-economic inequality on campus; as well as mental health problems.
  • Participants said that future participants would benefit from more support through the programme after starting their studies. This would help them to navigate some of the challenges they identified.

The findings will inform future delivery of the programme and help to ensure that the programme offers the best possible experience for participants. The Sutton Trust and the Fulbright Commission have already begun offering more support for UK applicants through the Sutton Trust Online platform, developed and delivered bespoke programming on race and mental health, and are exploring further collaboration to support students once in the US through our respective alumni networks. This work will continue over the coming year to address the findings of the report and strengthen the programme as we continue to deliver to new cohorts of young people.

Many thanks to the generosity of donors to the US Programme who have enabled this work and impact.

To see the full report, please click here.

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