Teenagers from low and middle-income backgrounds will get to experience life as an undergraduate at the University of Glasgow and Cardiff University this year through free summer schools run by the Sutton Trust.

The Sutton Trust’s UK summer schools aim to improve access to top universities by giving participants the knowledge and insight to make high quality applications, as well as boosting their aspirations. Year 12 or S5 students get a flavour of what their first-year as an undergraduate student will be like through a week of taster lectures, workshops and social activities.

There will be 100 places available on the summer schools at the University of Glasgow, with 25 each in arts and humanities, engineering, social sciences and medical sciences. Glasgow joins the University of Edinburgh and the University of St. Andrew’s in offering young people the opportunity to experience university life in Scotland.

Cardiff will be the first Welsh university to deliver the programme and has launched 75 new places on the medicine summer school, designed to give participants a taste of undergraduate life. The expansion means that the Sutton Trust now works with 13 partner universities across the UK to deliver the summer schools. In 2019, 2,300 state school students from across the country – many of whom will be the first in their family to go on to higher education – will take part in subject-specific courses.

Sutton Trust UK summer schools are designed to support young people to make informed choices about their futures and raise their aspirations. Young people get the opportunity to experience university life through a free week-long residential, where they explore a subject through taster lectures and workshops and receive support on their UCAS applications.

Tammy Elward took part in a UK summer school in 2000. She said: “I grew up in South Wales in a very rural area of the valleys. My dad was a coal miner before he had an accident and couldn’t work anymore, and my mum worked in a factory for a short time in Cardiff before moving back to the village.

“Before me, no-one in my family was educated beyond GCSEs. At first the Summer School experience was alien to me so initially I withdrew from activities – simply the act of travelling away from home made me anxious. As the week progressed I realised I had other options than just staying in the Valleys. It was after the programme that I decided to apply to study languages at the University of Cambridge.”

Laura Houston attended a summer school at St. Andrew’s in 2010 and is now an Education Liaison Officer at the university where she runs the summer schools. She said: “The summer school itself helped me realise what studying at university would really be like. I studied biology and got to take part in both lectures and practical labs, something I never had the opportunity to do before. It helped me realise that biology was definitely the subject for me and I now had the skills to do it. It made the idea of attending university less scary and most importantly it made me realise that university was for people like me.”

The Sutton Trust’s UK Summer Schools are open to all Year 12 and S5 students who attend, and have always attended, a state school or college in the UK. There are then additional criteria, the more of which students meet, the more likely they are to secure a place. Additional criteria include being the first in their family to attend university, having been eligible for free school meals and achieving 5 GCSEs at grades 7-9.

Recent analysis of UCAS data found that young people who took part in a Sutton Trust Summer School between 2006 and 2016 were four times more likely to receive an offer from a top university than their classmates with similar grades and from similar backgrounds.

Applications for UK Summer Schools are now open and close at 5pm on Thursday 28th February 2019. Applications can be completed online.


  • The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility. It has published over 200 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.

Media enquiries

If you're a journalist with a question about our work, get in touch with Hilary or Ruby. If it's out of office hours, you can call or text 07917 462 164.

E: [email protected] T: 020 7802 1660

Keep up to date with the latest news